Gotham up less, Buffalo down more

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The just-released official 2010 Census data for New York State indicate New York City is growing more slowly and Buffalo is shrinking even faster than had been suggested by previous estimates.

The July 2010 Census estimate had New York City adding 422,500 people since 2000, a healthy 5.3 percent growth rate. But the official Census data say the city’s population actually increased by just 166,855 residents, a growth rate of 2.1 percent.

Buffalo’s population had been estimated last July at 270,240, a drop of 22,408, or 7.7 percent, from 2000.  But the official data show a drop of 31,388, to a new level of 261,310, a loss of nearly 11 percent. The Queen City’s population has dropped by more than 50 percent since 1960, and is now at its lowest level since the 1890s. Expect both cities New York City to challenge the numbers strenuously.

On the opposite extreme, the fastest growing New York counties were Saratoga (up 18,972, or 9.5 percent), Orange (up 31,336, or 9.2 percent) and Rockland (up 24,934, or 8.7 percent).  In general, population growth in New York is concentrated in two regions: Long Island (mainly Suffolk County) and the Hudson Valley.

UPDATE: In general, the numbers can be seen as a pleasant surprise for upstaters. The July 2010 estimates showed 35 upstate counties losing population, but the official data show just 17 losers.  And there are some interesting patterns within those numbers.  For example, despite Buffalo’s larger-than-expected population loss, Erie County’s population decrease during the decade was just 3.3 percent.  In fact, excluding Buffalo, the rest of the county basically held its own. The same was true of neighboring Niagara County, in which Niagara Falls lost more people than the estimates would have indicated, while the rest of the county gained population.

The 2010 Census map should also come as a pleasant surprise to legislative Republicans.  The state gained a net 401,645 residents, of which 166,855 is attributed to New York City.  In other words, the city has added the equivalent of a bit more than an Assembly seat.  Otherwise, the balance of power has moved from cities to suburbs, west to east, upstate to down, but more moderately than had been expected.

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- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.