Long Island is in line with national trends showing an aging and more racially and ethnically diverse population, as its white population continued to show a small decline while other groups posted increases between 2020 and 2021, according to new census estimates released Thursday.
The Island's non-Hispanic white population fell 1.26%, from about 1.825 million to about 1.802 million, over the span of the year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2021 Populations Estimates program focusing on race, sex, age or Hispanic origin.
Meanwhile, Asian, Black and Latino people all showed small population gains.
The Island also saw increases in most categories of the 65-and-over population.
"Policymakers should look at these numbers and realize that these changes have been happening for a very long period of time and will continue to happen," said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies.
While Levy has not reviewed the latest census estimates, he noted these trends have been evident from other census data for a long time.
"We are going to continue to get older and more diverse, both of which have brought challenges to the Island that they haven't quite met," he said.
The Island's overall population, about 2.92 million, declined very slightly, about .03%, over the year.
“As we continue to become a more diverse region, we will also continue to become a more vibrant and economically competitive region," said Matt Cohen, president and CEO of the Long Island Association.
He added that the region needs "to remain laser-focused on adding more affordable home and rental options to support our older population while making it more possible to keep our younger professionals here.”
The non-Hispanic white population in Nassau fell from an estimated 813,636 on July 1, 2020, to 798,323 one year later, a 1.9% decrease, according to the estimates.
The county's Asian population grew 5.2% during that time: from an estimated 157,278 people to 165,439.
Hispanic people, the largest minority group on the Island, saw their population in Nassau rise .68%, from 242,983 to 244,642.
The county's Black population was relatively flat, rising .2%, from 181,588 to 181,947 during the period.
The county's total estimated population dipped from about 1.394 million on July 1, 2020, to about 1.391 million a year later, according to the bureau, or .22%.
Suffolk County's non-Hispanic white population declined .76%, from about 1.011 million to about 1.003 million, over the year.
The county's overall population rose slightly, .15%, over that time, from about 1.524 million to about 1.526 million.
Suffolk saw increases across racial and ethnic groups, too.
The Hispanic population grew 2.06%, from 310,130 to 316,522.
The Asian population rose 3.17%, from 65,508 people in 2020 to 67,583 the following year. And the growth of the Black population was more robust in Suffolk, increasing 1.53%, from 135,944 to 138,021.
More LIers 65 and older
The Island saw increases in both Nassau and Suffolk of the 65-and-over population. In Nassau, the 65-to-69 age group rose from 80,398 in 2020 to 81,776 a year later. In Suffolk, the age group increased from 83,344 to 85,713.
Age groups from 70 to 84 saw increases as well, while there was a slight decline in the 85-and-older category.
"While aging, the nation is becoming more diverse," the bureau said in a statement. "Nationally, all race and Hispanic origin groups experienced population increases, apart from the white population, which declined slightly by 0.03%."
The bureau reported that since 2000, the national median age has increased by 3.4 years, "with the largest single-year gain of 0.3 years coming in 2021," which officials said brought the median age to 38.8 years.
"With birth rates trending downwards and the aging of the Baby Boom and Generation X cohorts, the median age will likely continue to rise in the coming years," the bureau said.
Policymakers should address the demographic changes when devising programs, Levy said.
"And it's time to recognize that whatever reforms need to be made, everything from how we police and educate and care for the health and quality of life of our population, really has to start in earnest," he said.