(p. A1) When roughly 300,000 New York City residents left during the early part of the pandemic, officials described the exodus as a once-in-a-century shock to the city’s population.
Now, new data from the Internal Revenue Service shows that the residents who moved to other states by the time they filed their 2019 taxes collectively reported $21 billion in total income, substantially more than those who departed in any prior year on record. The IRS said the data captured filings received in 2020 and as late as July 2021.
Many new or returning residents have since moved in. But the total income of those who had initially left was double the average amount of those who had departed over the previous decade, a potential loss that could have long-term effects on a city that relies heavily on its wealthiest residents to support schools, law enforcement and other public services.
The sheer number of people who left in such a short period raises uncertainty about New York City’s competitiveness and economic stability. The top 1 percent of earners, who make more than $804,000 a year, contributed 41 percent of the city’s personal income taxes in 2019.
About one-third of the people who left moved from Manhattan, and had an average income of $214,300. No other large American county had a similar exodus of wealth.
Early in the pandemic, Sam Williamson, 51, a white-collar defense lawyer living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, first relocated to Utah, then to Long Island. After a return to the city, he and (p. A19) his family permanently moved to Miami last year when his law firm opened an office there.
“I love New York City, but it’s been a challenging time,” Mr. Williamson said. “I didn’t feel like the city handled the pandemic very well.”
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Gergana Ivanova, 28, a clothing designer and social media influencer, said her decision to move to Miami was less about taxes. The pandemic made the downsides of living in New York City more noticeable, she said, including the lack of space in her tiny Queens apartment and the trash piling up on the sidewalks. She felt less safe walking around when the streets were emptier.
“It didn’t feel happy and positive like it used to,” she said.
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The exodus to Florida was especially robust, and not just for the retiree crowd. In 2020, New York City had a net loss of nearly 21,000 residents to Florida, IRS data showed, almost double the average annual net loss from before the pandemic.
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Zak Jacoby was the general manager of a bar on the Lower East Side when the pandemic hit. Throughout 2020, his employment status fluctuated with the city’s changing indoor dining rules, a stressful period that put him on and off unemployment benefits.
Mr. Jacoby, 37, flew to Miami in January 2021 to see a friend — and decided to stay permanently after getting a job offer at a local restaurant group. If there was another virus surge, he said, the state would be less likely to shut down businesses, giving him more job security.
“My mind-set was, Florida’s more lenient on Covid, and there’s going to be less regulation,” he said.
(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “The Flight of New York City’s Wealthy Was a Once-in-a-Century Shock.” The online version of the story says that the print version has the title “An Exodus of New York’s Wealthy Has Left Lasting Costs,” but my National print version has the somewhat different title “Exodus of New York’s Wealthy Leaves Lasting Costs in Wake.”)