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With Thursday’s release of new Census data, you probably saw the headlines: NYC’s population growth outpaced the U.S. average and reached an historic high of 8.8 million. As a complement to DCP’s analysis of city trends (more on that below!), this edition of NYC Thinking Regionally takes a brief look at the NYC Metro’s growth over the last decade. 

The NYC Metro’s population now stands at 23.5 million, the region having gained more than 1.3 million people since 2010. NYC itself accounted for nearly half of that growth, a share larger than any since 1940. As a whole, though, the NYC Metro's growth rate fell below the national average due to slower population growth in suburban and rural areas. Here’s what we know: 

Data Spotlight:
NYC Metro Region Population Growth
The NYC Metro was home to 23.5 million people in 2020, representing an increase of 6% since 2010. NYC and Inner New Jersey grew the most and at higher rates than the NYC Metro and the U.S. on average.
NYC Metro Population and Change

As of April 1, 2020, the NYC Metro’s enumerated population was 23,544,043. It grew by 1,329,524 persons, or +6.0% over the 2010 count of 22,214,519. The NYC Metro grew by a slower rate than the U.S. overall, which grew by +7.4% since 2010. NYC, which grew by +7.7%, or 629,057 persons, and the northern New Jersey counties closest to NYC (the “Inner NJ” subregion), which collectively added 374,931 persons and grew by +7.5%, have exceeded the 2010 to 2020 growth rates of the NYC Metro and the U.S.

The Lower Hudson Valley, Mid Hudson Valley, Long Island, Outer New Jersey, and Southwest Connecticut subregions also grew population since 2010, however, at rates that fell below the NYC Metro and U.S. average growth. 

Pct Pop Change by NYC Metro County
Within NYC Metro subregions, population growth patterns varied by county. Hudson County, NJ saw the highest growth rate of any county in the NYC Metro, adding 90,588 persons, or +14.3%. Seven counties exceeded the U.S. average growth rate, while 19 counties grew more slowly. Some counties, such as Orange County, NY and Ocean County, NJ, saw divergent growth rates from neighboring counties. Five counties in NYC Metro saw a net decrease in population between 2010 and 2020, all of which are outlying counties further from NYC.
Since 2010, the NYC Metro’s population growth concentrated in municipalities within a 90-minute transit commute to NYC.

Most of the NYC Metro’s population growth occurred in cities, towns, and villages with regional transit lines and stations providing access to midtown Manhattan. Outside of NYC, 75% of the NYC Metro’s net population growth since 2010 occurred in municipalities within a 90-minute transit trip to Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station. There were, however, also municipalities that lost population within that 90-minute trip zone, mostly on Long Island and scattered throughout northern New Jersey.

In addition to NYC, some of the largest municipalities in the NYC Metro also saw significant population increases. Many are centrally located and/or transit-accessible, and include: 

  • Newark, NJ (311,549 people in 2020, +34,409 since 2010)
  • Jersey City, NJ (292,449, +44,852)
  • Yonkers, NY (211,569, +15,593)
  • Paterson, NJ (159,732, +13,533)
  • Ramapo, NY (148,919, +22,324)
  • Stamford, CT (148,654, +12,827)
Some further from the core have continued to substantially grow population decade-on-decade, such as Lakewood, NJ (+42,315 since 2010, +46% growth) and Monroe, NY (+14,429 since 2010, +36% growth), despite much slower population growth in their neighboring rural and suburban municipalities.  
The NYC Metro’s population grew the most among the largest U.S. metros, slightly more than the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metros, but the NYC Metro’s rate of growth lagged other major U.S. metros.
US Metro Pop Growth

The NYC Metro experienced the largest population growth among U.S. metros, with its gain of 1.33 million equal to adding the entire New Orleans Metro to the region in the last decade. The NYC Metro’s growth was just slightly larger than population gains in the biggest Texas metros, Dallas-Fort Worth (+1.31 million) and Houston (+1.21 million), though both are much smaller in total population than the NYC Metro—approximately one-third the size. 

Percent Pop Change US Metros
On a percentage basis, the NYC Metro’s growth (+6.0%) fell below the U.S. average rate of +7.4% and lagged some of the largest U.S. metros. Over the last decade, large metros in the South and West grew faster than the U.S. on average, while metros in the Northeast and Midwest, notably older metros, grew more slowly. The NYC Metro’s population growth was concentrated in higher density areas, driven largely by NYC and proximate areas in northern New Jersey and was contrary to growth other major metros, where population growth was characterized by outward expansion from the urban core.
NYC accounted for the greatest share of NYC Metro population growth since 1940.
NYC Metro Pop Change by Decade

NYC, which represents 37% of the NYC Metro’s 2020 population, accounted for 47% of the region’s population growth since 2010. This decade marks NYC’s highest share of NYC Metro population growth since 1940. NYC experienced its second-largest population growth since 1930, while the rest of the NYC Metro experienced its second-largest population growth since 1970. Both the city and the rest of the NYC Metro had larger population gains in 2000.

The NYC Metro has 9.4 million housing units, representing a 6% increase since 2010, slower than the U.S. on average.
NYC Metro Housing

The NYC Metro added just over 500,000 housing units since 2010 for a total of 9.38 million in 2020, an increase of 5.7% that lags the U.S. average rate of growth (+6.7%). Nearly half of the NYC Metro’s housing unit gain was in NYC, which added 247,573 units (+7.3% since 2010). The Inner NJ subregion added 136,424 housing units, a 7.1% increase since 2010. NYC and Inner NJ accounted for a disproportionate share of NYC Metro’s housing unit growth in the last decade, 76% of new units combined despite accounting for 60% of NYC Metro housing supply. Other parts of the region saw housing unit growth fall below the NYC Metro and U.S. averages, particularly the Connecticut and Long Island subregions.

Population totals were calculated by DCP using the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Decennial Census and 2020 Census Redistricting Data. The 90-minute travelshed to NYC’s Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal are calculated by DCP using OpenStreetMap and General Transit Feed Specification Data for the 31-county region and represents walk-to-public-transit trips to those rail stations. It includes service provided by the MTA Metro North, MTA Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit, Amtrak, and PATH trains. It does not include vehicular travel or bus trips. Travel time is shown at the U.S. Census Block level with centroids of the blocks used as the origins of the trips.

Stay tuned! The 2020 Census data included in this newsletter will be uploaded to NYC Metro Region Explorer early this fall. 

Have a question or want to get in touch? Email us.

Spotlighting the NYC Census Enumeration 

There’s little planning news that can match the import of the first release of detailed numbers from the 2020 Census. As such, we devote this section to guiding you to all of DCP’s most relevant work on the 2020 Census count for New York City. One good place to start is on our Population Division’s 2020 Census webpage.

As mentioned above, New York City’s 8,804,190 people is an unexpectedly large number. As we showed in the May edition of the NYC Thinking Regionally newsletter, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program (PEP) estimated the City’s 2020 population at 8.25 million, 7% lower than the 2020 Census enumeration.

NYC’s impressive enumeration was by no means assured. City agencies, philanthropic foundations, nonprofits, and community groups came together to make it possible. DCP did significant work, for instance, to update the Census Bureau’s Master Address File and provided technical support to local governments across the NYC Metro to do the same.

For all the analysis that DCP has published since last week, and a list of key takeaways and other interesting facts (Do you know what the fastest growing neighborhood in NYC was between 2010 and 2020?), take a look at this briefing booklet on key population and housing characteristics from the 2020 Census.

Finally, with all this good news about population growth in the region’s core, we thought you might like to dig into the numbers on your own. This spreadsheet of data from both the 2010 and 2020 Census, with a straightforward data dictionary included, will give you everything you need to do your own basic analysis of NYC’s numbers.

What We're Thinking About

We admit, we appreciate a good local news story as much as you do. With regard to the NYC Census numbers, there’s been plenty to choose from. This New York Post article notes that the City’s increase of 629,000 people totaled more than the increase for Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and LA combined!

Related to America’s growing population, if not to the 2020 Census directly, is this Washington Post analysis of newly released U.S. Geological Survey data that shows new land development by county from 2001-2019. Note how small the amount of newly developed land in NYC compared to the cities mentioned in the New York Post article above.

The New York Times has published extensive analysis on the Census enumeration, especially at the national level. If you’ve not been following their coverage closely, here’s five findings you may have missed.

NYC Thinking Regionally, not unexpectedly, keeps its gaze directed towards all things urban, especially as they pertain to our highly urbanized region. Yet a less heralded story to emerge from the 2020 Census is this story of how immigrant populations are keeping America’s rural regions from near demographic disaster

Upcoming Planning Events
Across the Region

Sunset Boat Tour: Ports of New York and New Jersey
Open House New York
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
6:30pm (Pier 83)

Re-Future NYC: Reflect, Redefine, Reinvent
Thursday September 23, 2021

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About Us

The Regional Planning Division was borne out of OneNYC, the Mayor’s long-term plan for the City, which highlighted the need for the city to work with neighbors across borders to promote a sustainable and equitable future for our shared region. You can read more about our team and our work here.

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