NY POST.COM: By Selim Algar
September 20, 2022 7:22pm Updated
The COVID-driven rush of New Yorkers into Florida has turned into a stampede — with no end in sight.
A record-breaking number of Empire State residents switched their driver’s licenses to the Sunshine State version last month, according to a Post analysis of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data.
A total of 5,838 New Yorkers made the switch in August — the highest recorded number for a single month in history, the numbers show.
Year to date, 41,885 New Yorkers have handed over their licenses after moving south, a torrid pace that’s pointing to a new annual record.
Some observers had speculated that the outbound flow would ease with COVID receding and cities opening back up.
But the latest figures suggest otherwise.
Renowned fashion designer Alvin Valley moved his primary residence to Palm Beach during the pandemic and said the ongoing influx has been staggering.
“First it was the billionaires,” he said. “Then it was the rich following behind them. Now you have the middle class.”
Valley, who has already opened one Palm Beach boutique and has another in the works, said the Florida flight has been driven largely by quality-of-life concerns.
“A lot of families just began to feel like New York was becoming unlivable,” Valley said. “Especially for younger couples with kids in their 30s and 40s. They don’t want to get on the subway. It’s a safety issue, it’s a schools issue.”
A retired NYPD lieutenant who moved with his family to Jacksonville last year told The Post that New Yorkers still have a buffet of reasons to bid farewell.
John Macari blamed COVID-19 mandates, rising crime and unappealing schools for the continued departures.
He argued that vaccine mandates for public-sector employees left thousands of working-class New Yorkers disillusioned with city government and eyeing the exits.
“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,” Macari said.
The Brooklyn native, who runs a Jacksonville livery service staffed by retired NYPD cops and hosts a podcast featuring ex-officers, said he talks to friends every day who want out.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has leveraged the state’s newfound popularity, using it as a political bludgeon in his running feuds with New York and California officials.
Acknowledging the Florida drain in April, Mayor Eric Adams deployed digital billboards in the Sunshine State to woo New Yorkers back to their native terrain.
License switching suggests a permanent or extended move and serves as a proxy indicator of domestic migration trends. Figures for how many Floridians have swapped their licenses for New York ones were not immediately available.
California also set a new high for license exchanges with Florida in August, passing the 3,000 mark for the first time, logging 3,059 swaps.
The same applied to New Jersey last month, which saw a record 3,259 license switches.
A slew of other states — including Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania — all set new records for Florida driver’s license applications, the data shows.
Florida has received 321,881 out-of-state license trade requests in 2022.