Long Island’s population increased modestly between 2016 and 2017 on the strength of gains in Nassau County, while Suffolk County continued to lose residents, largely the result of people moving out of the county, according to new population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.
Nassau gained more than 3,600 people between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, while Suffolk lost nearly 1,400 during the time span, according to the bureau’s data.
Nassau’s 2017 population estimate was 1,369,514, up from 1,365,857 the year before. Suffolk’s 2017 count was 1,492,953, down from 1,494,334 in 2016. The current estimate for Suffolk is below the county’s 2010 census official population count of 1,493,350.
Still, Suffolk has the fourth largest population in the state, ranking behind three New York City boroughs: Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County) and Manhattan (New York County). Nassau’s population ranks sixth out of the state’s 62 counties, according to the bureau.
Long Island’s total population was 2,862,467 in 2017, up from a revised 2016 total of 2,860,191. New York State’s population in 2017 was 19,849,399, up from 19,836,286, a 0.1 percent increase in the one-year period.
A bright spot for the region, one expert said, was that the population losses stemming from people moving out of Long Island to other parts of the state or the country — the bureau calls this domestic migration — appeared to be slowing.
“Domestic migration losses are not as big as in the past” for Long Island and many other regions of the state, said Jan Vink, a researcher with Cornell University’s Program on Applied Demographics, which is an affiliate of the Federal-State Cooperative on Population Estimates.
The census estimates show that in 2017 Suffolk had a 9,000 loss in domestic migrants, and Nassau 4,562, both lower than their domestic migrant losses in the preceding two years.
“Only New York City did not see the same trend,” Vink said. “The losses in the city are bigger than in other parts of the state.” The city lost more than 142,000 domestic migrants in 2017, about 22,000 more than the year before.
Vink said that until a few years ago, domestic migration out of New York and many of its regions was far higher. “In the last couple of years there was a trend where domestic migration became more and more negative. This last year of estimates seems to be breaking with that trend. We can only hope it’s the beginning of a new trend,” Vink said.
William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, D.C., doesn’t see the same trend of falling domestic migrants when viewed through the lens of the greater New York metropolitan region, which includes New York City, Long Island, and parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. His analysis of the census estimates for this greater metropolitan region showed domestic migrants ticked up between 2016 and 2017, from more than 201,000 to 208,000-plus.
Frey said New York City’s slower growth rate — 0.08 percent — as compared with the metropolitan region’s 0.23 percent, suggested that surrounding suburban communities, such as Nassau — where the growth rate was 0.3 percent — “are picking up some of the slack,” grabbing some of that population. With a rebounding economy, enabling people to move and access mortgages to buy homes, Frey said, “I do think there’s an inkling that suburbanization is coming back.”
Vink said, however, “these estimates don’t tell you if that’s because more people are moving in or less people are moving out.”
Vink also cautioned against putting too much emphasis on one-year changes because the bureau revises the estimates as new information comes in or changes are made in methodology. In any case, the annual estimates since the 2010 census show small but steady population gains for Nassau in each year of a seven-year period, while in Suffolk there have been sustained losses since 2014.
SOURCE: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU