Populations in Westchester and Rockland counties are on the rise while Dutchess and Putnam continue to see net declines, according to an analysis of recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.
Rockland, in particular, appears to be growing at a more rapid pace. The county, which is the state’s smallest in terms of area, experienced a 4.6 percent population growth between the 2010 census and 2015, according to estimates. It is ranked fourth in the state for estimated growth over that five-year span and ranked second for estimated growth over the past year.
The statistics analyzed by Pattern for Progress account for a number of factors, including each county’s estimated natural population increase and estimated net migration – the number of people that remain after those who have left the area are subtracted from the natural increase.
Westchester County, which increased its population by an estimated 2.9 percent, experienced a natural increase of 19,307 people and a net migration of 9,685 people, which actually represents the highest estimated population growth; Rockland’s population was smaller from the start, so its 14,000-person natural increase and net migration of about 800 people represent a greater percentage of its population.
Officials with the Pattern for Progress theorized the increase, which also occurred in Orange County, may be a direct result of increased populations in the five boroughs of New York City, which increased its population by more than 375,000 people and is responsible for about 90 percent of the state’s total growth over the past five years.
On the other end of the spectrum are Dutchess and Putnam counties.
According to Pattern for Progress’ analysis, those counties, along with Sullivan and Ulster, experienced net migration losses. Analysts found that Dutchess experienced a natural population increase, but saw twice as many people move away. Putnam’s figures were similar.
Joe Czajka, Pattern for Progress’ senior vice president, said the estimated statistics from the Census Bureau are “vitally important” as the Hudson Valley looks toward the future.
“The changes in population impact our infrastructure, education, housing, environment and overall community well-being,” he said. “In the coming months, as additional data are released at the local level, we will be able to determine where the growth centers are in each of the counties and, conversely, where the (Hudson) Valley is losing population.”
When released, those statistics will take into account demographics by race, ethnicity, gender and age, Pattern for Progress said.
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