The Hispanic population on Long Island has increased by more than 3 percent between 2010 and 2011, a rate that slightly exceeded their growth nationwide, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The population estimates, the first the bureau has released by race, Hispanic origin, sex and age since the 2010 census, also showed increases among other minority groups on Long Island, while the white population stayed virtually flat.

The number of Hispanics on the Island -- 441,594 in the 2010 Census -- was estimated to have risen to 457,508 by July 1, 2011, the census data show, for a 3.6 percent increase.

Nationally, Hispanics' growth was estimated at 3.1 percent since 2010, boosting their share of the nation's population to 16.7 percent in 2011, up from 16.3 percent in 2010. They numbered 52 million nationally in 2011, according to the bureau, making them the largest minority group and the fastest-growing. African-Americans were the second-largest minority group nationally, numbering 43.9 million, according to the 2011 estimates.

Asians also posted strong growth. Nationally, Asians grew an estimated 3 percent, to 18.2 million since 2010. On Long Island, they increased just under 3 percent, according to the estimates, numbering 164,279.

The black population on Long Island grew 2.3 percent since 2010, totaling 283,359. Whites, meanwhile, whose numbers have been declining for several years, essentially stayed flat -- dipping less than half of a percentage point -- with an estimated population of 2,332,727 in 2011.

The bureau's estimates for Long Island showed a continuation of a decline in younger children, which has led some school districts to close elementary schools. But the data also showed an increase among the 18- to 24-year-old age group, which grew 2.7 percent in Nassau and 2.6 percent in Suffolk.

The estimates also provided evidence for the concern raised by business leaders, policymakers and others about the "brain drain" from Long Island: young adult workers leaving the area. According to the census estimates, those aged 25 to 44 declined slightly between 2010 and 2011 -- down 0.4 percent in Nassau and 1.7 percent in Suffolk. In Nassau, they numbered 318,793 in 2011, down from 320,188 in 2010; in Suffolk, they numbered 373,696 in 2011, down from 380,026 in 2010.

The estimates also showed the Island's median age inched up to 40.8 in 2011, from 40.5 the year before.

The data is "kind of what I expected," said Jan Vink, research support specialist at Cornell University's Program of Applied Demographics, which is a coordinating agency within the New York State Data Center.

The growing diversity of minority and ethnic groups on Long Island, and the aging of the population were "following the trends from the last decade," Vink said.

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