New York City’s population is booming – but not for everyone, everywhere

New York City’s population rose by more than 600,000 over the past decade to a record 8.8 million people, even as the census took place during the height of the pandemic.

Still, growth was not evenly distributed across communities in the five boroughs, according to the latest U.S. census data released Thursday, where the number of black New Yorkers fell 4.5 percent.

The overall shift marks a 7.7% increase for residents between 2010 and 2020 – and of almost 10% since 2000 – one of the highest rates of increase among major cities nationwide.

The figures show population increases in each district:

  • Brooklyn’s numbers grew by 9.2% since 2010 to 2,736,074 – the largest increase in any borough.
  • Queens rose 7.8% to 2,405,464
  • Manhattan rose 6.8% to 1,694,251
  • The Bronx jumped 6.3% to 1,472,654
  • The State of Iceland grew by 5.8% to 495,747.

But this growth differed between different racial groups and districts – some saw peaks, while others suffered losses.

The most dramatic differences occurred in Brooklyn, where the Asian population increased by 43%, while the district’s black population decreased by 8.7% in the past decade. White population growth of 8.4% almost corresponded to the decline of the variety in Brooklyn.

Brooklynites gather outside a juice bar in Crown Heights.

Brooklynites gather outside a juice bar in Crown Heights.
Hiram Alejandro Durán / BYEN

“If you listened to people on earth, you realized what was going on. The population is moving because of the housing crisis, rising rents, lack of home ownership and rising foreclosures,” said Dr. Zulema Blair, the redirecting research director at the Medgar Evers Colleges Center for Law and Social Justice. “We saw all these things rise and we knew that black society would be most affected.”

Blair added that some black Brooklynites may have moved to Staten Island and The Bronx to get more affordable housing.

Overall, New York City lost 4.5% of its black population in the last decade, with declines also on Manhattan and Queens and fairly stable numbers in the Bronx. Among neighborhoods alone, Staten Island saw its black population grow by 5.7%.

The city’s Spanish-speaking population – which can be of any race – saw a 6.6% uneven growth with an 8.8% increase in Queens and The Bronx and a 20% increase in Staten Island, while declining slightly in Manhattan and only increased 4% in Brooklyn.

Asian leaders, meanwhile, hope the new census could bolster ambitions to create new legislative districts with a focus on their communities and needs.

‘People will stay’

The city’s population growth came during a period of relatively strict immigration enforcement – especially during the administration of former President Donald Trump. It prompted some observers to credit the increase in the city’s population on moving from other parts of the United States rather than on new immigrants.

Children leave daycare in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Children leave daycare in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Hiram Alejandro Durán / BYEN

The 2020 census also came at a time when hundreds of thousands of households were moving out of New York City due to the coronavirus pandemic – giving rise to concerns that emigration could hamper the city in the long run.

Julie Menin, who served for nearly two years as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s census director, said the numbers should put these speculations to rest.

“It’s a testament to the fact that people want to stay in New York City, that they believe in New York City, and that this whole story that the city is over … was a completely false story,” Menin said, now Democratic candidate for city council on Upper East Side.

She said population growth comes with big payouts – including more federal funding and greater congressional representation.

New York State learned earlier this year that it had lost a seat in the House of Representatives as a result of the census, even though it was expected to drop two. It would have held on to both seats if a further 89 residents had been spoken to.

“Over 300 programs rely on the census data to determine the allocation,” Menin said. “It means building new schools. That means building more affordable housing. That means building more open space. And that means making sure our infrastructure is where it needs to be. “

Looking for a COVID comeback

In a tweet Thursday, they write Blasio exclaimed the results and his administration’s role in increasing the population, saying “that’s what happens when investing in pre-K for everyone, safe streets and working families.”

But city officials also acknowledged that a significant portion of the increase can be attributed to a more accurate count.

In an online posting, the Department of City Planning said its staff identified more than 122,000 housing units that, for a number of reasons, had not previously appeared in the U.S. Census Bureau’s master file.

Many of these were chalked up to addresses that are “hard to find” due to informal subdivisions of apartment buildings, according to the posting.

The agency also identified more than 140,000 newly built units that had not yet been entered into the agency’s master file – with the combined effort opening the door for more than 500,000 people to be counted.

A woman moves into an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

A woman moves into an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Hiram Alejandro Durán / BYEN

Kathryn Wylde, chair of a group of business leaders known as the Partnership for New York City, said it was up to the next administration to maintain the city’s appeal by focusing on the concerns expressed by voters in the election of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams , a moderate, as the Democratic candidate for mayor.

“Clearly, voters have stated that public safety and public health are the biggest concern. And then the focus must be on continued job growth so that the economy remains viable,” Wylde said. “And finally affordability, then again, while domestic migration continues – that people feel they can afford to live here. ”

Wylde said the impact of COVID on the city’s population was still an open question, as many of the address changes reported by the U.S. Postal Service were not marked as temporary.

“The question is how much of this emigration is or will be permanent, and number two, domestic immigration continues in light of some of the changes that we expect will come from COVID – such as the ability to work remotely from anywhere on a mass jobs, ”she added.

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