2 Greene County leaders dispute census data | New York State
A new report from the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has shed light on statewide numbers taken from the 2020 U.S. Census.
The report breaks down census figures for each county and city of New York in more detail, with categorizations of the population by age, housing status and race.
As of the 2020 census, Greene County had a total population of 47,931, down 1,290 since 2010, representing a 2.6% decrease in population since 2010.
“The census was taken before COVID hit, so I question the overall population loss,” said Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden. “Before COVID, more than 30% of our housing stock was a second home. We wonder if people have made it their full time home or not. Because people have either moved out of the New York metro area or they can telecommute now when they couldn’t before.
The town of Coxsackie saw its population decline by 6% during the census, with a population of 8,382 in 2020, a figure that town supervisor Richard Hanse questioned.
“What worries me is that it will cost us federal money,” he said. “When you think about ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding, it was based on population. When we lose population, we lose money. I’m not sure how accurate the census numbers are. But it holds, it will not disappear because of its inaccuracies. Why didn’t people fill them out? I do not know. I think COVID may have reduced the number of investigators. I also think there is a general distrust of the federal government. I also think there is a lack of people who understand the importance of the census. But losing population costs us money, even if it is a fictitious population loss. That’s what bothers me. »
Hanse said that based on his first-hand experience in the city, he doesn’t believe the city has lost 6% of its population since 2010.
“I think it might be inflated,” he said. “I’m basing it on the fact that it’s been a really good year for mortgage tax and I don’t think a lot of people are refinancing. If you look at the real estate industry in the town of Coxsackie, people are coming. People are fleeing the state and they can now work from home, so they don’t have to pay the cost of living in the state. They can live a better life here and continue to work. So I really don’t think we’ve lost that number of people.
The city of Lexington had a 4.3% decline in its population in the report, while the city of Athens was down 4.2%.
In the 2020 Census Report, the vacancy rate in Greene County stands at 30.6%, with 8,853 vacant units available in the county, including seasonal occupancy.
“It’s data that doesn’t really sit well with us,” Groden said. “When you have 30% of your housing stock that was previously a second home, that means the census form will not be completed in that house, it will be sent to where the main residence is. That 30% isn’t necessarily such a bad number in normal times. But because of the pandemic, I wonder if some of those people have now moved here. We don’t really know that data and you haven’t really seen a corresponding increase in school population because people have moved out of the metropolitan area and also moved children. The children may have already come out of these homes and they had a vacation home here.
In the county, the population of young people under the age of 18 has fallen 12.4% since 2010, with children making up 17.3% of the county’s population, down from 19.3% a decade ago.
“We’ve seen that number for many, many years projected to go down,” Groden said. “We looked at that when we think about our community college, where probably 95% of the student population that attends the college are intra-county students. We are not withdrawing students from Binghamton. So this number of young people is a worrying number, because how can we keep our populations in school where the school can continue to operate as it has for so many years? »
Groden said the decline in youth numbers could be due to a mix of factors, including families moving out of the area or simply having fewer children than previous generations.
“I’m one of six kids and in my neighborhood when we were growing up we were a little family,” he noted. “When I was a kid, we had families with eight, 10 or 12 kids. So I think that’s part of it. Because usually both parents work, it’s not easy to leave the kids at home because that you need to have daycare options. Do we really have a net migration of people from births to deaths? I’m not sure.”
In the census report, Greene County’s population was broken down by race, with 82.4% of census respondents listed as white (non-Hispanic), up from 87.1% in 2010. The county’s Hispanic population is listed at 6.5%, down from 4.9% in 2010. The county’s black population has shrunk in 2020 to 4.5% of the population from 5.3% a decade ago, while Greene’s Asian population has grown to 1%, compared to 0.8% in 2010.
The town of Hunter has seen the fastest growth in the county over the past 10 years, with the town’s total population of 3,035 marking an 11.1% increase since 2010.
“I think it’s exciting to be in the town of Hunter and we have a really high quality of life that draws people in,” Hunter Town Supervisor Sean Mahoney said. “We have a lot of great equipment here at the top of the mountain. I think the pandemic has really shown a lot of people how good we are here and it’s attracting a lot of people. We look at this through a positive lens.
The town has seen population growth at the same time that Hunter and the Village of Tannersville hope to build 80 affordable labor housing units, which Mahoney said would not be limited to area ski resort workers.
“It’s meant to be affordable labor housing for people working all over the top of the mountain,” Mahoney said. “Of course, being a ski area, we want the employees to benefit from it, but it’s not exclusively for them. This is for EMS workers, teachers, restaurant workers. It’s for everyone. The school needs affordable housing for the people who work there. We have people who work for the municipality who are displaced from their homes and who could benefit from this. So it’s very broad. »