Thousands of New Yorkers fled their state for the sunshine of Florida during the pandemic.
Over 33,000 New York residents turned in their Empire State driver’s licenses in exchange for Florida licenses between September 2020 and March 2021, according to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The number represents a 32% increase from the same time period during the previous year, when 25,370 New Yorkers traded in their New York licenses for Florida licenses.
Florida officials say one of the driving forces behind the defections included parents looking to get their children back to in-person instruction full-time, highlighting the difference between the states’ approaches to pandemic restrictions.
Florida has been the beneficiary of an overall population boom during the pandemic, which the state’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research believes has been “supported by an apparent shift in lifestyle preferences away from the more dense urban areas found elsewhere.”
New York, meanwhile, has continued an eight-decadelong streak of losing representation in Congress, falling 89 people short in the latest Census to hold the same number of seats. New York will now have a 26-member delegation in the House of Representatives, down from the 45 members it had in the 1940s.
“We were the Empire State of the country, and that is clearly not the case right now,” said Nick Langworthy, the chairman of the New York Republican Party, who blamed the tax policies of Democrats for the population decline. “To have one less member of Congress, to have one less electoral vote, that makes our voice that much smaller.”