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Long Island sees population decline in 2019, new census figures show

U.S. Census 2020 mailings are arranged for a

U.S. Census 2020 mailings are arranged for a photograph in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Credit: Bloomberg/Andrew Harrer

The 2019 population for Long Island shows a decline from the year before, with the steeper losses occurring in Suffolk County, according to new population estimates for the nation's counties released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The New York City boroughs, along with Long Island and other inner ring suburbs, showed losses as well. Demographers said the losses were primarily the result of declines in international migration into the region and domestic migration from the area to other states. The bureau said Texas had six of the 10 counties with the largest population growth between 2018 and 2019.

The population estimates are the last to be released before 2020 census data come out next year. 

Still, the greater New York metropolitan area — which takes in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania — remains the most populous metro region in the country with more than 19 million people, the bureau noted.

Nassau County's 2019 population was estimated at 1,356,924, down slightly from 1,357,534 in 2018. Suffolk's 2019 population was 1,476,601, down from 1,480,830 the year before.

The five boroughs of New York City showed population declines between 2018 and 2019, according to the census estimates, with Brooklyn (Kings County), which has the city's largest population, seeing the biggest decline of more than 18,000; followed by the next largest borough, Queens, with a 15,700-plus loss, and the Bronx, with a 13,800 loss, according to the bureau's estimates.

"What I saw as the biggest consequence for the downstate [region] was a drop in the international migration," said Jan Vink, researcher with Cornell University's Program on Applied Demographics, which is part of the Federal State Cooperative on Population Estimates. And "the ongoing trend is the number of births is declining, and continues to decline," meaning the natural increase — births over deaths — "is getting smaller and smaller."

Vink said only six counties in New York State saw population increases. In his analysis of Census Bureau estimates between 2010 and 2019, Vink found that New York State had a net migration rate of a loss of more than 681,000 during the multiyear period. Long Island suffered a net migration loss of more than 63,000 people between 2010 and 2019, his analysis found.

William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., had a similar view. "New York has the biggest loss of population of all the big metro areas," he said, because of losses in international and domestic migration.

"So the metro area and the city are losing population, both of them in bigger numbers than we’ve seen for a long time," Frey said. "Along with L.A. and Chicago, big metro areas with big economies, and immigration, but domestic out-migration make them bigger losers" than other cities, such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh and elsewhere. He suggested part of the reason for the losses may be a higher cost of living in those three metro areas.

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