Hempstead Town gained the most people among Long Island’s 13 towns from 2016 to 2017, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates for cities, towns and villages released Thursday.
In the one-year comparison, Hempstead Town — the Island’s most populous, with 774,959 people — gained 1,570 residents from July 2016 to July 2017, a 0.20 percent increase.
North Hempstead Town had the largest percentage increase of the three towns in Nassau, at 0.41 percent, gaining 946 people, while the Town of Oyster Bay’s population increased by 999, or 0.33 percent.
The new data give population counts for Long Island’s two cities, 13 towns and 97 villages.
The figures underscored the agency’s estimates by county, released in March, that showed growth in Nassau County of more than 3,600 people was responsible for Long Island’s modest increase in 2017, even as Suffolk County lost population.
Six of Suffolk County’s 10 towns, according to the data released Thursday, saw drops in population from 2016 to 2017 that, while small on a percentage basis, were the continuation of a downward trend.
Brookhaven Town, the county’s most populous, saw a decline of 591, or 0.12 percent. For the others, the Town of Babylon was down 280 people, or 0.13 percent; Huntington, down 284 people, or 0.14 percent; Islip, down 477 people, or 0.14 percent; Riverhead, down 26 people, or 0.08 percent; and Smithtown, down 130 people, or 0.11 percent.
The East End towns were an exception to that decline, with Southampton Town posting a one-year increase of 263 people, or 0.45 percent.
Suffolk County has more people than Nassau — 1,492,953 versus 1,369,514, according to the 2017 estimates released in March — but the county had a loss of nearly 1,400 residents in the one-year period. The bureau’s 2017 estimate for Suffolk is below its 2010 Census count of 1,493,350.
The gains in Hempstead Town held up over a longer period as well, with a Newsday online database of census estimates from 2010 to 2017 showing the town’s population increased by nearly 14,000, or 1.8 percent, during the seven-year span.
Hempstead Village — the Island’s most populous — had the largest numeric increase in population over the seven-year period, rising by 1,732 people, or 3.2 percent. The bureau estimates the village’s population in 2017 at 55,806 — higher than its 2010 Census count of 53,891 — with a one-year rise of 71 people, or 0.13 percent.
The other villages with the largest one-year gains were Farmingdale, with a population increase of 207, or 2.3 percent, and Rockville Centre, which gained 112 people, for a 0.45 percent increase, according to the estimates.
New York City remains the nation’s most populous by far in 2017, with an estimated population of 8,622,698. Los Angeles was a distant second, at 3,999,759.
The Island’s small population increases come against a backdrop of census estimates that continue to show the nation’s greatest such growth was occurring primarily in the South and West, a decades-old development, experts noted.
The Census Bureau, in a news release, said that “eight of the 15 cities or towns with the largest population gains were located in the South in 2017, with three of the top five in Texas.” When looking at percentage change, 10 of the 15 fastest-growing large cities were in the South, the bureau said.
This surge in population in the Sunbelt probably has been going on — “in spurts” — since the 1950s, said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, D.C.
“It’s gone up and down a bit, but that’s where we’re headed,” Frey said. “Not to say that New York is not still a major force, but there are other parts of the country that are growing as well.”
Regarding the Northeast, Frey offered some suggestions to policymakers.
“You need to be prepared for a population that’s getting older. Increasingly in the suburbs, the population is aging,” he said. “It’s going to be important everywhere, but especially in slower-growing areas of the country — even a dynamic area like New York.
“As the population gets older, how do you deal with that population?” Frey said. For example, “Is it safer for older people to be navigating the roadways? All kinds of social services might have to be ramped up for the older population.”
LI towns’ population ups and downs
Of Long Island’s 13 towns, here are the top three and the bottom three in terms of estimated population changes from 2016 to 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.
Hempstead Town: 1,570 increase, up 0.20 percent
Oyster Bay Town: 999 increase, up 0.33 percent
North Hempstead Town: 946 increase, up 0.41 percent
Brookhaven Town: 591 decrease, down 0.12 percent
Islip Town: 477 decrease, down 0.14 percent
Huntington Town: 284 decrease, down 0.14 percent