In this file photo, Hempstead residents attend a meeting on...

In this file photo, Hempstead residents attend a meeting on the census. (April 9, 2010) Credit: John Dunn

New census figures to be released this week are expected to show that Long Island is getting older and has more single moms and vacant housing than a decade ago.

The impacts of the trends, experts say, range from a shrinking regional workforce to a growing need for safety-net services.

"We do expect a rise in the 65-and-over population, especially in Suffolk," where retirement communities have developed, said Seth Forman, chief planner for the Long Island Regional Planning Council.

Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business and civic group, expects to see an increase in the 55-64 population and an "even sharper" jump in those 65 and older.

At the same time, Kamer anticipates a drop in the prime working-age population, between the age of 25 and 44.

Forman points to lower birthrates 40 years ago that led to fewer prime-age workers today.

"There were 140,000 fewer births on Long Island in the '70s than there were in the '60s," he said.

The LIA and others have raised concerns about a "brain drain" of young adults leaving the region, sparking a call for more apartments and affordable housing.

"The problem is other parts of the country see an increase in young workers and young children, and we see a decrease," Kamer said. "The fact is, they're going elsewhere."

What the latest 2010 census figures will reveal about households is also eagerly awaited.

Forman and Kamer expect to see an increase in single moms from 2000, reflecting the national trend. Studies have found that one out of four households with children in the United States are now headed by a single mother.

The household data will open a window into what Kamer called a "degree of social disorganization."

"We'll see an increase in the proportion of households headed by single parents, and there are all sorts of implications for social services and health care," she said.

Forman said there will also be political implications. Married couples with children tend to be more conservative politically than households headed by single people, he said.

"The political future of the region really takes place within household walls," he said.

The latest census release will also provide information on an anticipated rise in housing vacancies in the region, much of it driven by the recession.

Other community-by-community information will detail the number of homes for sale and occupied seasonally, along with breakdowns on rental units.

The Census Bureau has scheduled the release of the new data for New York and Long Island for Thursday.

New census data

The latest 2010 Census figures for Long Island will include:

  • Breakdowns by sex and age, from younger than 5 to 85 and older.
  • Median age by community.
  • More details about racial and ethnic groups, particularly among Asians and Hispanics.
  • Household relationships, ranging from married couples to single parents.
  • Numbers of occupied and vacant housing units, including seasonal homes.
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