NYC Population Decline: Median Earnings Drop to $49K

New York City’s population witnesses a significant decline, dropping over 5% or nearly half a million residents between 2020 and 2022, reveals a recent report from the New York State Comptroller. The city grapples with an affordability crisis, evident in the shrinking population and a notable shift in demographics.

Population Decline and Affordability Challenges:

The population decline in New York City has accelerated, primarily driven by an affordability crisis. In 2022, those leaving the city experienced an 18% decrease in median earnings, plummeting to $49,000—a stark contrast to the previous year. This financial strain contributes to a widespread sentiment that life in the city has become a financial pipe dream for many.

Demographic Shifts and Aging Population:

The demographic landscape of New York City is undergoing a transformation. The report highlights that the city’s population is becoming older and wealthier, witnessing a resurgence in international migrants while experiencing declines in the shares of White and Black New Yorkers. Notably, the only demographic group that saw growth from 2020 to 2022 was seniors, marking a 3.3% increase.

Challenges for Families and Concerns for the Middle Class:

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli emphasizes concerns about the altered population in the wake of the pandemic. The report raises issues related to the cost of living, the widening wealth gap, the importance of preserving a strong middle class, and the challenges of catering to an aging population while ensuring a conducive environment for families to raise their children in the city.

Affordability Woes and True Cost of Living:

Affordability challenges in New York City have long persisted, with half of working-age households earning less than the $100,000 necessary to meet basic needs, as per the New York City True Cost of Living report published in April. This staggering statistic affects nearly 3 million people, underlining the urgent need for solutions to address the affordability crisis.

Housing Reforms and City Initiatives:

The city responds to the lack of affordable housing with a pilot program unveiled in November, offering homeowners up to $395,000 to build additional dwellings in their homes. This initiative is part of New York City’s broader housing reforms, aiming to construct 100,000 new homes to alleviate the housing shortage and enhance affordability.


As New York City grapples with population decline and affordability challenges, policymakers face the pressing task of implementing effective measures to retain residents, ensure a thriving middle class, and address the evolving demographic landscape. The urgency of these issues is underscored by the significant population shifts observed over the past two years.

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