The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released data showing increased...

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released data showing increased numbers of foreign-born Long Islanders as well as new statistics about the region's poverty rate and household income. Credit: TNS/Dreamstime

Long Island's foreign-born population has increased at a "statistically significant" rate in the past decade, based on census data released Thursday, an illustration of immigration's importance to the region's growth.

Both Nassau and Suffolk counties showed growth in their foreign-born populations between two five-year time periods — 2010 to 2014 and 2015 to 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nassau's foreign-born population increased from an estimated 21.5% [or 290,896] in the earlier five-year time frame, to 22.4% [303,645] by 2015-2019, the census bureau's American Community Survey found. Suffolk saw its foreign-born population grow from 14.9% [223,483] to 15.6% (230,810) during the same time periods.

According to census data released earlier this year, Nassau'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.

Despite the increase of foreign-born residents, experts have said a reduction in international migration in recent years, along with the people leaving Long Island, adversely affected the region’s population growth.

"It's clear that immigration will continue to take a downward dive — especially after the pandemic," William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., said in an email. "So it will be less of a cushion for Nassau and Suffolk county communities — countering the domestic migration they sustained over much of the decade." He added that perhaps, "due to the pandemic, more Long Island bound domestic migrants from [New York City] will help to make up the difference."

The latest five-year census data provides information for all Long Island communities.

The five villages and hamlets with the highest percentage of foreign-born population in 2015-2019 were: Brentwood, Elmont, Garden City Park, Hempstead Village and North Bay Shore. Those communities all had foreign-born populations of at least 40%. It was highest in Elmont, which borders Queens, at 44.7%.

The top five communities where a language other than English was spoken at home in 2015-2019 were Brentwood, 69.7%, North Bay Shore, 65.6%, Stony Brook University, which is a "census designated place," 58.8%; Flanders, 54.9% and Garden City Park, 54.4%.

Communities where Spanish was spoken at home at a high rate in 2015-2019 also included Brentwood, which has long had a large Latino population, at 64.2%, followed by North Bay Shore, 60.5%, and Flanders, 51.2%.

Communities ranked in the top five where Asian and other Pacific Islander languages were spoken at home included, Stony Brook University, which has many international students from countries in Asia, at 33.9%; North Hills, 23%; North New Hyde Park, 21.7%, Syosset, 20.4% and Jericho, 19.8%.

The American Community Survey five-year data provides information on more than 40 topics on communities' demographic, economic, social and housing characteristics.

Median household income grew for Nassau and Suffolk during the two five-year periods, which were adjusted for inflation to reflect 2019 dollars, bureau officials said. According to the survey estimates, the median household income in Nassau increased from $106,418 in 2010-2014 to $116,100 in 2015-2019. In Suffolk, the median went from $95,504 to $101,031 during the time periods.

The poverty rate for Nassau in 2015-2019 was estimated at 5.6%, down from 6.3% in the earlier five-year period, which the bureau said was a statistically significant change. The rate was basically unchanged for Suffolk: 6.9% in 2015-2019 and 6.8% in 2010-2014.

But for hamlets and villages with small populations, caution was needed in making interpretations, said Jan Vink, a researcher with Cornell University's Program on Applied Demographics, part of the Federal State Cooperative on Population Estimates. Looking at the five communities with the highest poverty levels, he said in an email that for a least a couple of them — Springs and Manorhaven, which each have around 6,500 residents — "The margins of error are pretty wide, and just looking at the statistical significance between the first and the last data point might be a bit misleading in these cases."

Wyandanch, with a population of nearly 12,000, had the highest estimated poverty rate at 24.5% in 2015-2019, up from a 13.4% in the prior five-year period, a statistically significant change. Next was Springs, with a 20.7% poverty rate in 2015-2019, up from 7.3% in the earlier period, also statistically significant. The rate for Hempstead Village, with more than 53,000 residents, was 18.9% in 2015-2019, down from 21.5%, but it was described as not a statistically significant change. Fourth highest was North Bellport at 16.4% between 2015 and 2019, down from 22.7% in the earlier five-year period, and Manorhaven, 15.4% from 2015 to 2019, up from 8.3% between 2010 and 2014, but according to the estimates, the changes in both communities were not statistically significant.

Assessing Long Island's economic outlook, John Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business group, said in an email: "I think the first quarter of 2021 will be challenging as coronavirus cases increase, potentially requiring further economic restrictions … By the second quarter of 2021 I would expect economic activity to improve significantly as the vaccine becomes more widely available. The latter half of 2021 should witness the best economic growth on Long Island as concerns over [COVID] subsides and pent up consumer demand takes off."

Long Island communities with most foreign-born residents


  • ELMONT: 44.7%
  • BRENTWOOD: 42.8%
  • HEMPSTEAD: 40.6%
  • NORTH BAY SHORE: 40.2%

Long Island communities with highest median household income


  • EAST HILLS: $225,583
  • WOODBURY: $181,667
  • MANHASSET: $177,321
  • GARDEN CITY: $174,886

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau's 2015-2019 American Community Survey

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