The COVID-driven exodus of New Yorkers continues as a record number of former residents reportedly transferred their driver’s licenses to Florida last month. According to a New York Post examination of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles statistics, 5,838 New Yorkers switched in August, the most in history for a single month.
Since the beginning of 2022, 41,885 New Yorkers have turned in their licenses after relocating, a rapid rate that suggests a new yearly record. Some observers hypothesized that the outward flow would slow when COVID subsided, and the city reopened. However, recent numbers suggest the opposite.
Fashion designer Alvin Valley, who moved to Palm Beach during the pandemic, stated, “First, it was the billionaires. Then it was the rich following behind them. Now you have the middle class.” He explained, “A lot of families just began to feel like New York was becoming unlivable. Especially for younger couples with kids in their thirties and forties. They don’t want to get on the subway. It’s a safety issue; it’s a schools issue.”
Retired NYPD Lieutenant John Macari noted that COVID restrictions, vaccine mandates, and safety concerns caused working-class New Yorkers to flee the city. He said, “Couple that with the rise in crime and zero competence from our elected officials, and a lot of people just don’t see a future in New York City for themselves.”
Fully aware of the exodus, New York City Mayor Eric Adams bought digital billboards in the Sunshine State to entice New Yorkers back to the state in April. Additionally, California recorded 3,059 license swaps with Florida in August, surpassing the 3,000 mark for the first time. Other states, including Washington, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, also broke previous records for Florida driver’s license applications. So far, in 2022, Florida has received 321,881 requests for out-of-state license trades.
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