The 2010 Census

25 03 2011

So, over the past few weeks, I’ve had an eye out for the new census figures for New York State. After hearing about Detroit’s massive 25% loss, I didn’t have high hopes for any part of upstate, what with the high taxes, poor weather and rampant government corruption.

I’m actually pleasantly surprised in some ways. Albany, Schenectady and Troy all grew, which is shocking because Schenectady and Troy haven’t seen population growth since WWII. Syracuse lost 1.5% to fall to about 145,000, but considering it was expected to have only 137,000 people, the smaller loss suggests that Syracuse may finally be “bottoming out”, barring unexpected circumstance. Syracuse’s county, Onondaga, was expected to lose 4,000 people this decade. It gained 10,000. Turning to the more pessimistic results, Rochester and Buffalo met expectations by dropping 4.2% and 10.7% respectively.

As for Tompkins County? Well, estimates initially suggested a population of about 101,779 (there were 96,501 residents in 2000). The official census tally says 101,564, slightly less than expected. Either way, the county added over 5,000 new residents over the past decade (which means more housing required, and new developments…and hopefully I’ll have plenty of things to write about in the future).

Ithaca city added 727 people and now stands at 30,014, an increase of 2.5%. Using the census’s words, the number of white people declined, while African-American/black was virtually flat. The gain was in Asian-Americans, and those who were of two or more races. Ithaca town stood at 19,930, a gain of 9.5%, or 1,732 people. According to the projection was for 20,200, so this explains most of the discrepancy between actual and projected county population figures. All towns in the county grew, ranging from 1.4% in Newfield to 12.8% in Caroline.

Based off of these figures, for the first time in over a century, Ithaca is bigger than Elmira (which dropped 5.6% to 29,200). The neighbors in Cortland grew 2.5% to 19,204. Actually, most of the growth in Cortland County occurred in communities on the Ithaca-Cortland Route 13 corridor. Looking south, Binghamton lost a grand total of 4 residents, to fall to 47,376 (Broome County’s growth was nearly flat).

Is it good news? Not necessarily. Natural rate of growth would suggest a population increase of 7% per decade. So people are still moving out, but it seems they are doing so in smaller numbers then they did in the 1970s-1990s. Which to a native upstater like myself, this gives some hope that there is a way to turn around the decline of parts of upstate, whether by decreasing taxes and government, new/expanded business ventures (hydrofracking, expanding tourism) or other options that may or may not be pursued. One can hope anyway.



One response

7 04 2011

It’s funny, because the common wisdom is that the Metropolitan area saves the state from precipitous population decline.

In fact, NYC grew at an abysmal pace, percentage-wise, and almost the whole of Eastern New York State outside the city grew at a healthy rate on par with or above the national average (this is smeared out over counties, so cities/towns may have other stories to tell).

Even more interesting, rapid growth in the inner suburbs of Westchester and Nassau seems to have ceased. The strongest growth in the state was in the Mid-Hudson Valley and pockets of the capitol district (again, percentage-wise, on a county-wide level).

Of course, the most tragic story is that of New York’s third and fourth largest municipalities: Buffalo and Rochester (fun fact: the ‘town’ of Hempstead has a bigger population than both). While neither is in free fall, their population is still in decline, even though the last decade’s data seemed to suggest a leveling off. It’s sad really.

I would love to see someone study the dynamics within some of these cities. Is most of the growth in Rochester or Albany in their downtowns and urban residential neighborhoods? Or on the outskirts in de facto suburbs? Urban life became trendy again, especially in major cities like New York and Chicago, but does that apply to 200,000 people towns? Or are they saving face via outlying development?

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