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Census figures bring good and bad news for upstate

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Buffalo's population is now at 1890's levels.

Western New York continues to lose population at a speedy rate. But other upstate regions fared much better, according to U.S. Census figures released yesterday.

The bleakest picture was that of the Buffalo Niagara region.

According to the Buffalo News:

Buffalo's population dropped by 31,338 residents between 2000 and 2010. That 10.7 percent decline in the city's population -- which stood at 261,310 in 2010 -- was among the largest of any place in New York State, although the 9.8 percent drop in Niagara Falls followed close behind.

Shortly after the release of the data, the finger pointing began.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown blamed “dysfunction in Albany” and predicted that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s agenda, if passed, would stem some of the bleeding.

In fact, the Governor used the opportunity to tout his budget plans, which remain in negotiation with legislative leaders. A budget outline compromise could come before Saturday.

Citing New York’s high taxes, Erie County Executive Chris Collins said jobs were leaving as a result. As employment opportunities go, so goes the population.

But not all of upstate New York shared the same fate. 

According to the Syracuse Post-Standard:

In a stunning surprise to government leaders -- who expected new losses -- Central New York’s population grew by 1.4 percent in the past decade to reach an all-time high of 742,603 in the four-county Syracuse area, the 2010 Census showed.

Economists credit this trend to an investment in growing technology-based sectors of the economy.

Here’s a map of how the rest of upstate faired. Rochester also lost population, but at half the rate of Buffalo. Broome County, home to Binghamton, gained 64 people.

Amherst and Clarence, suburbs of Buffalo, both jumped double digits. These are so-called “second ring” towns, as the city’s original suburbs, like Cheektowaga, are also shedding people as they move to newer and nicer areas. 

As in the past, Buffalo can at least take solace in the fact it is not Detroit, which lost 25 percent of its population in the past decade.

Implications for Congressional seats

New York found out last December it would lose two congressional seats. Redistricting has not started yet, but it looks like western New York could be giving up one, if not two, seats.

That’s not good news for Democrats Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter.

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

The population of the 28th Congressional District represented by Slaughter, whose residence is in Fairport, dropped 6 percent, from 654,360 people to 611,838. Her earmuff-shaped district stretches along the shoreline of Lake Ontario between Buffalo and Rochester. The population of the adjacent 27th Congressional District represented by Higgins, who is from Buffalo, fell 4 percent — from 654,361 to 629,271. His district runs along the shore of Lake Erie, covering Erie and Chautauqua counties.

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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