by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Florida might as well be known as the sixth borough.
New data from the Sunshine State’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers the latest glimpse of just how many New Yorkers fled south during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 33,565 New Yorkers exchanged their NY drivers licenses for Florida credentials between September 2020 and March 2021.
That’s a 32% increase from the same period the prior year, when 25,370 New York driver’s licenses were traded for Florida ones.
Florida officials said a major cause of migration was parents looking to get their kids back in full-time, in-person school.
The most popular three Florida counties for New York transplants for the calendar years 2019, 2020, and 2021 through April were — no surprise — the southeastern counties of Palm Beach (14,045), Broward (8,422), and Miami-Dade (8,033).
In total, for the 2019-April 2021 period, 104,960 New Yorkers made the switch — far and away leading every other state. Runner-up New Jersey came in second with 53,901. Trailing the Garden State were Georgia (48,143), Illinois (46,042), California (43,801).
Florida has experienced a COVID-19-driven population boom, which the state’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research expects to continue in the near term, “supported by an apparent shift in lifestyle preferences away from the more dense urban areas found elsewhere,” according to a March report.
Perhaps the Biden administration could learn some lessons from the data.
One of President Joe Biden’s advisers expressed genuine shock over the monumental differences in how Florida, under the leadership of GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, managed to keep its COVID-19 death and illness rates stable even though he took an ‘open the economy’ approach rather than a ‘lockdown the economy’ approach, like his blue state rivals. …
… What isn’t difficult to understand is that DeSantis, early on, took a far different approach than his New York Democratic gubernatorial colleague, Andrew Cuomo. The former moved specifically to protect the elderly and the infirm in nursing homes; the latter ordered eldercare facilities in his state to take in patients sick with COVID-19 and the result was predictable. …