Census: Upstate cities show slight decline, downstate grows

| Poughkeepsie Journal

Upstate New York’s largest cities saw slight population declines over the year ending July 1, 2014, while New York City and other downstate cities saw a slight bump, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Among the state’s most-populous cities, New York City saw the largest gain to a total of about 8.5 million people, a jump of about 52,700 people — or 0.6 percent — from 2013, the estimates released Thursday showed.

Among upstate’s top cities, Buffalo lost an estimated 857 people over the year, dropping to a total population of 258,703. The Census estimate showed the city of Rochester with 209,983 residents, down 627 from the year before and ranking 102nd in the country.

In the lower Hudson Valley, Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle all saw slight increases, with Yonkers showing an estimated 0.4 percent bump to 200,667 people. Of those three cities, New Rochelle saw the largest increase since 2010 — up 3.2 percent to 79,637.

“In the last six, seven years, we’ve seen luxury apartments and other housing come online,” said Omar Small, assistant to the city manager in New Rochelle. “It’s a great place to live. You have a wide array of housing choices, neighborhood choices and a first-rate school system.”

The Census Bureau released county-by-county estimates in March, which showed much of the state’s population gains have been driven by New York City and its suburbs.

Overall, New York showed a 1.8 percent population increase from 2010 through July 2014, pushing its estimated population to 19.7 million, according to the federal data. The March estimates showed 40 upstate counties had lost population over the same time period.

Thursday’s estimates broke the data down by municipality, largely showing the same trend — with downstate cities, towns and villages generally growing with upstate largely remaining stagnant or showing a slight population decrease.

E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy, said the population trends in upstate cities have shown an influx of immigrants from foreign countries.

“The county numbers we’ve seen suggest that the stability in the upstate cities is foreign immigrants replacing U.S.-born residents,” McMahon said.

The municipal population estimates showed slight drops in the Southern Tier, including in the city of Elmira, which dropped to 28,647 residents, a loss of 247 from 2013. In Binghamton, the estimated population fell from 46,544 in July to 46,299 in 2014.

The city of Ithaca, whose economy is bolstered by Cornell University and Ithaca College, showed a slight increase, from an estimated 30,616 in 2013 to 30,720 last year.

In the mid-Hudson Valley, the city of Poughkeepsie dropped by an estimated 86 residents to 30,513 last year.

The federal Census is administered once a decade, with the last official population figures coming in 2010. The Census Bureau releases a variety of estimates each year, with the next official Census coming in 2020.

John Bernardo, the deputy Broome County executive, said the county is “dismayed by the decline in population.” The March estimate showed the county had dropped to 197,349 residents last year, down from its official count of 200,600 in 2010.

“We understand people are going where the jobs are and we are working with several private companies to bring jobs to our area,” Bernardo said in a statement. “Those jobs will not only attract new people to our community, but will also keep recent college graduates here and we believe the decline in population will turn around in the very near future.”

The estimates, however, don’t always pan out, as Broome County can attest.

Broome was estimated to have lost population from 2001 to 2010. But when the official Census figures were released, the county was shown to have gained 100 residents.

© 2015 Gannett News Service