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Long Island growing more racially and ethnically diverse, census data show

Racially and ethnically diverse demonstrators protest against police

Racially and ethnically diverse demonstrators protest against police brutality in a march on Friday, June 19, 2020 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Island’s population is growing more racially and ethnically diverse, as Asians and Hispanics, especially, continued to make gains, while the white population has declined between 2010 and 2019, according to census data released Thursday.

The Island is also following national trends as residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties age 65 and over increased between 2010 and 2019 as well.

The non-Hispanic white population in Nassau dropped from 880,528 on April 1, 2010 to 794,199 on July 1, 2019 — a 9.8% decline, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 population estimates. Suffolk County saw a similar drop among its non-Hispanic white population during the same period: from 1,071,689 to 983,806, an 8.2% decrease.

Other racial and ethnic groups saw increases. Among Hispanics — who may be of any race — the Island's largest minority, the population count in Nassau increased 21.4%, from 195,355 in 2010 to 237,225 in 2019. In Suffolk, Hispanics saw a similar increase, 21.2%, rising from 246,239 in 2010 to 298,429 in 2019, according to the census estimates.

While the numbers for the Asian population are far lower than Hispanics, their percentage increase was higher: in Nassau, the Asian population rose 39% between 2010 and 2019, from 104,318 to 145,191; and from 51,394 to 60,195, a 17% increase, in Suffolk.

Black Long Islanders increased nearly 11% in Nassau: from 143,338 to 158,916 during the nine year period. The increase in Suffolk was smaller, at just over 7%: from 103,110 in 2010 to 110,520 in 2019.

Statewide, the non-Hispanic white population declined 5.2% between 2010 and 2019, according to the estimates, going from 11,344,650 to 10,755,420. Blacks also saw a slight dip, .4%, from 2,825,404 to 2,813,773. Asians increased 18.4%, from 1,446,620 to 1,713,428. Hispanics increased 9.8%, 3,416,922 to 3,751,058.

In many large metropolitan areas, the gains are largely among Asians and Hispanics, said William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and author of the 2014 book "Diversity Explosion." The metropolitan area, Chicago and Los Angeles are "losing some whites [and] some blacks," Frey said, suggesting that a higher cost of living in those places may be a factor in the declines.

"Places like Dallas, Atlanta and Houston are picking up people, maybe because of more job opportunity coupled with a lower cost of living," Frey said. "They gain in all racial groups," he added.

Nationally, the bureau reported increases among all racial and ethnic groups, with the Asian population rising 29.3% between 2010 and 2019; Hispanics went up 20%; blacks, 11.6% and whites, 4.3%.

The bureau also said the nation's baby boom population that has reached age 65 and over continued to grow.

“The first Baby Boomers reached 65 years old in 2011,” Luke Rogers, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Branch, said in a statement. “Since then, there’s been a rapid increase in the size of the 65-and-older population, which grew by over a third since 2010. No other age group saw such a fast increase. In fact, the under-18 population was smaller in 2019 than it was in 2010, in part due to lower fertility in the United States.”

 According to the bureau, the 65-and-older population grew 34.2% or 13,787,044 during the past decade, and by 3.2% (1,688,924) from 2018 to 2019. 

The 65 and over age group increased on Long Island as well, by 20.5% in Nassau (204,681 to 246,690) and by 26.8% in Suffolk (201,793 to 255,941).

"Generally you see the aging of the white population," Frey said, "and you have a decline in America of everyone under age 25, which is very much affected by the white decline" and their lower birthrates. 

 With a growing aging population, Frey says it means "we have to pay more attention to the younger population to be able to contribute to Social Security retirement and Medicare," benefits needed by older Americans. "Our future labor force is dependent upon a diverse coalition of people. This very diverse young population needs to be tended to and given opportunities."

Race and ethnicity statistics

NASSAU

2010: non-Hispanic white: 880,528

2019: non-Hispanic white: 794,199

2010: non-Hispanic black: 143,338

2019: non-Hispanic black: 158,916

2010: non-Hispanic Asian: 104,318

2019: non-Hispanic Asian: 145,191

2010; Hispanic: 195,355

2019: Hispanic: 237,225

SUFFOLK

2010: non-Hispanic white: 1,071,689

2019: non-Hispanic white: 983,806

2010: non-Hispanic black: 103,110

2019: non-Hispanic black: 110,520

2010: non-Hispanic Asian: 51,394

2019: non-Hispanic Asian: 60,195

2010: Hispanic: 246,239

2019: Hispanic: 298,429

65 and over population

NASSAU

2010: 204,681

2019: 246,690

SUFFOLK

2010: 201,793

2019: 255,941

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau 2019 Population Estimates

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