The number of people identifying as white declined in every New York county except five: Saratoga, Rockland, Hamilton, New York and Kings counties.
As of April 1, 2020, the New York population was 58 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic, 14 percent Black, 7 percent Asian, less than 1 percent American Indian and less than 1 percent Pacific Islander, while 2 percent of people self-identified as two or more races.
The data released Thursday presents the most detailed look in a decade at the state and the nation’s population based on a real survey of individuals — not estimates — down to the neighborhood level.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau undertakes the mammoth task of counting every person living in the nation. The data released Thursday will kick off redistricting processes in all 50 states, allowing politicians to redraw their political maps. The numbers will influence the distribution of more than $1 trillion in federal funding for states, counties, cities and towns and will be used by governments, businesses and non-profits to make economic decisions or for research purposes.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and attempted political efforts to change the census procedures, the 2020 count was beset by challenges. Beth Jarosz, a senior research associate at the Population Reference Bureau, a non-profit demography organization, called it “the hardest census the U.S. has ever had to do.” While no census is perfect, these difficulties mean there is even more risk than usual that some populations may not have been fully counted by the census, where as other groups could be over-represented.
Data released by the Census Bureau in April showed New York’s population increased by 4 percent from 2010 to 2020, but states in the South and West grew more. That means New York will lose one Congressional seat in 2022. The work of redrawing the districts will fall to the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission this fall.
In the Capital Region, Orange, Saratoga, Albany, Schenectady, Sullivan and Rensselaer counties experienced population growth from 2010 to 2020, while Dutchess, Montgomery, Putnam, Columbia, Greene, Washington, Delaware and Schoharie counties experienced population declines. The populations of Warren and Ulster counties remained flat.
Orange County’s population grew by 8 percent to 401,310. Saratoga County’s population rose 7 percent to 235,509.
The city of Albany’s population remained relatively stagnant, climbing 1 percent to 99,224 in 2020. The population of Troy grew 3 percent to 51,401. The population of Schenectady rose 1 percent to 67,047.
The towns of Ballston, Halfmoon, Malta, Cohoes and Green Island were among the top 50 cities and towns in New York for greatest population growth. Each had 12 percent or higher overall population growth.
In the Capital Region, poor, urban areas and very rural areas were most at risk for an undercount in the 2020 census, experts said. It will take researchers several years to evaluate whether an undercount of these groups actually occurred.
“Historically, [an undercount] has been concentrated in a number of census tracts in the poorer neighborhoods of the city of Albany and that trend is typical of a lot of urban areas in upstate New York and across the country,” said Mark Castiglione, executive director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.
“I know we had some low response rates in some of the more rural census tracts that included a higher percentage of populations 65 [years] and older,” Castiglione added. “Some people would attribute that to this census’ focus on online submissions.”
The 2020 census was the first in which people could complete the survey online, in addition to submitting it by mail and by phone.
Demographers expected the new data released Thursday would show a nation that is growing older and has increasing populations of Hispanic, Black, Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander and other racial and ethnic groups.
“Among children and young adults, we’re going to see what we tend to call a ‘majority minority’ country,” said Jennifer L. Van Hook, professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University. “More than half of them are going to be non-white and that’s the future.”
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