Long Island’s minority populations — particularly Latinos and Asians — are continuing to rise, while the percentage of white residents is decreasing, according to census data released Thursday from the 2011-15 American Community Survey.
Latinos are an estimated 17.8 percent of Suffolk County’s 1.5 million people in the most recent five-year survey, up from 15.3 percent in the report for 2006-10 — an increase of 2.5 points.
Nassau County saw slightly less growth among Latinos, percentage-wise, over the same time periods’ surveys. The Latino population rose to an estimated 15.8 percent of the county’s 1.3 million residents in the new data — up from 13.7 percent in 2006-10.
The increases in minority residents follow a long-standing trend, both locally and nationally, and are a prime reason that Long Island — unlike some places across the nation — continues to gain population, said William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
“I think it’s good news for these counties that they continue to gain Hispanics and Asians as their white population is declining,” Frey said.
Experts: LI changes noteworthy
“There are a lot of other counties in the country that are not seeing the increases in other populations as their white populations decline,” he said. Many of those are in areas of the Northeast that are not near urban centers or are in the nation’s heartland.
“It’s a good thing to have an injection of minorities,” Frey said. “It’s good for the labor force. It’s good for the consumer market.”
The white population’s decline is a result of younger people not moving into the region, “and those who are left are aging,” Frey said. “Hispanic and Asian people not only add population but add youth to the region.”
The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey interviews about 3.5 million people annually on 40 topics. The changes in the Island’s demographic trends between the two five-year surveys were deemed statistically significant by the agency.
Non-Hispanic whites’ share of the Island’s population was estimated to have declined 4.1 points in Nassau between 2006-10 and 2011-15 — from 67 percent to 62.9 percent. In Suffolk, the white population went from 73 percent in 2006-10 to 69.6 percent in the new survey.
In both counties, the population growth among Asians and African-Americans was smaller than that of Latinos.
In Nassau, Asians rose from a 7.4 percent share of the county’s population in the 2006-10 survey to 8.5 percent in 2011-15. In Suffolk, the increase was slight but still a statistically significant change, going from 3.4 percent in 2006-10 to 3.7 percent in 2011-15.
Meanwhile, the African-American share of Nassau’s population rose from 10.5 percent in the 2006-10 survey to 10.9 percent in the new report; and from 6.9 percent to 7.1 percent in Suffolk.
Housing, income snapshots
Comparisons of median household income for the Island’s population show a decrease, in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars, in both counties.
In Nassau, the median household income in 2011-15 was an estimated $99,465, down from $101,786 in the earlier five-year period. In Suffolk, the median in the current survey was $88,663, down from $91,884 in 2006-10.
Among other highlights in comparing data from the two five-year surveys:
- The percentage of homeowners with a mortgage paying 35 percent or more of their household income on housing costs declined in both counties: from 40.1 percent to 36.8 percent in Nassau; and from 41.8 percent to 37 percent in Suffolk. Information from Freddie Mac shows that mortgage interest rates generally were higher for the 2006-10 period than between 2011-15. For example, the yearly average interest rate in 2015 was 3.85 percent, down from 6.41 percent in 2006.
- The percentage of people in poverty increased in both counties, from 5 percent to 6.2 percent in Nassau, and from 5.7 percent to 7 percent in Suffolk. The poverty rate is derived from the government’s setting of a poverty threshold, which in 2015 was defined as $24,036 for a family of two adults and two children.
- Single women with children on Long Island had a far higher poverty rate: 23.6 percent in Nassau in 2011-15, up from 20.4 percent in 2006-10; and 21.9 percent in Suffolk in 2011-15, up from 18.8 percent in the earlier period.
Long Island’s population changes
These percentages, which show how Long Island’s population continues to become more ethnically and racially diverse, are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2011-15. The survey queries about 3.5 million people annually nationwide on 40 topics relating to demographics, economics, education, housing and other social characteristics.
Hispanics (of any race)
2011-15: 15.8 percent in Nassau County, 17.8 percent in Suffolk County
2006-10: 13.7 percent Nassau, 15.3 percent Suffolk
2011-15: 8.5 percent Nassau, 3.7 percent Suffolk
2006-10: 7.4 percent Nassau, 3.4 percent Suffolk
2011-15: 10.9 percent Nassau, 7.1 percent Suffolk
2006-10: 10.5 percent Nassau, 6.9 percent Suffolk
2011-15: 62.9 percent Nassau, 69.6 percent Suffolk
2006-10: 67 percent Nassau, 73 percent Suffolk