2020 Census results for Hudson and Sussex counties reveal demographic shifts
Street scenes in Jersey City
Jersey City on August 12, 2021.
Tariq Zehawi, NorthJersey.com
The 2020 census tells the story of density getting denser.
The metropolitan area’s population growth outpaced national growth, putting 86% of Americans in or near cities. Within the counties of northern New Jersey, an existing disparity has nonetheless increased between 2010 and 2020.
Hudson County, already the densest county in the state, became even denser during this decade. Sussex, at the other end of North Jersey, has seen its population decline.
As of spring 2020, Hudson had more than 56 times more people per square mile than its rural counterpart less than an hour’s drive west.
Michelle Richardson, executive director of the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation, said the state’s fastest growing region offers a host of assets that bode well for the next 10 years.
“Our strategic location, accessible transportation options, highly educated workforce and culturally rich communities together provide an exceptional quality of life for residents and businesses,” she said. “We see growth fueled by innovation and continued collaboration over the next few years with significant advancements in education, housing, arts and culture.”
Jersey City, already the largest municipality in Hudson County, is notably teeming with residents. About half of the county’s population increase occurred in the city, which grew from 247,597 to 292,449 between 2010 and 2020. The growth even exceeded that of the state’s largest city: Newark . This city reached 311,549 inhabitants from a count of 277,140 in 2010.
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Kim Wallace-Scalcione, press secretary for Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, said the city’s growth potential remains high. Beyond a national diversity and the welcoming atmosphere being created in the city, Wallace-Scalcione said the municipality is relying on developers and the private sector to integrate community benefits, including new schools, affordable housing, parks and other infrastructure improvements, which help better accommodate a growing population.
More census news: What the 2020 New Jersey Census results reveal about the state’s population
Nationwide, housing units rose 6.7% from the 2010 census to 140,498,736. In New Jersey, they lagged slightly, rising 5.8% from 3,553,562 to 3,761,229.
Leading the way was Hudson County, where unit growth of 15.7% surpassed all counties in the Northeastern United States.
An older, more diverse population filled the new units created by a wave of redevelopment in Jersey City and beyond. Hudson County’s 14.3% population gain was fueled by a 15.8% increase in its adult population over the decade. Outside of Jersey City, every other municipality in the county gained residents between 2010 and 2020. Hoboken grew by 21%; Harrison, Weehawken and Secaucus were up more than a third.
The growth was led by one of the largest increases in the state’s Asian population, though countered by a decrease in its black and more significantly white populations.
In addition to Hudson County, Essex, Somerset, Middlesex, and Ocean counties outpaced the state average in residential and unit growth.
At the other end of the spectrum was Sussex County, where units rose a meager 1.1%. The increase was the smallest in the state.
“While the national number of housing units has increased over the past decade, it has not been uniform across the country,” said Evan Brassell, chief of the Census Bureau‘s housing statistics branch. “Counties that comprised part of a metropolitan or micropolitan area saw increases of 3.8% on average, while counties outside of those areas saw decreases of 3.9% on average.”
Throughout North Jersey, growth generally declined westward. Bergen roughly mirrors the state average, with growth of 5.6%. Passaic reached 4.6% and Morris 3.5%.
2020 NJ Census Results: Paterson’s population grew by 9%, according to 2020 census results
Marc Perry, senior demographer at the Census Bureau, said that while metropolitan counties have seen growth nationwide, others have mostly seen population declines. The plunge nevertheless infiltrated some of the more rural counties in the New York metropolitan area, namely Putnam County, New York and Sussex County. In Sussex, a 2.6% increase in the adult population was offset by a 22.4% decrease in the under-18 subset, resulting in a 3.4% decrease in population. It was the only county in New Jersey north of Atlantic County to lose residents.
Steve Oroho, a state senator who represents Sussex County, said the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act 2004, which restricted development, made its impact known in the 2020 census The law restricts housing and business development to preserve a watershed that supplies water to most residents of the state, including those of Jersey City.
“I think the Highlands Act since 2004 has made it difficult for new businesses here,” Oroho said. “However, timing is everything. I think we are seeing a paradigm shift.”
Citing an increase in suburban desirability amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Oroho said the county is filling its housing inventory with workers who may no longer care or need a long daily commute to an urban area.
“Inventory is low and people are moving here,” he said. “I don’t know what change it would have brought, but I think there will be a bit of a change in the next census.”
Sussex County, like New Jersey as a whole, has seen a decrease in the number of residents identifying as white. While that population fell by 12.6% in Sussex County, the Asian, Black, and Hispanic populations increased by 13.7%, 15.4%, and 48.9%, respectively.
One of the biggest shifts toward a growing minority population occurred in the county seat of Newton. It was one of the few county towns to see an increase in population, and it was led by these three minority populations, which added a combined 492 people and increased their total collective population by almost a third.
New Jersey counties by 2020 population (growth from 2010)
- Bergen: 955,732 (+5.6%)
- Essex: 863,728 (+10.2%)
- Middle-sex: 863,162 (+6.6%)
- Hudson: 724,854 (+14.3%)
- Monmouth: 643,615 (+2.1%)
- Ocean: 637,229 (+10.5%)
- Union: 575,345 (+7.2%)
- Passaic: 524,118 (+4.6%)
- Camden: 523,485 (+1.9%)
- Morris: 509,285 (+3.5%)
- Burlington: 461,860 (+2.9%)
- Mercier: 387,340 (+5.7%)
- Somerset: 345,361 (+6.8%)
- Gloucester: 302,294 (+4.9%)
- Atlantic: 274,534 (0%)
- Cumberland: 154,152 (-1.8%)
- Sussex: 144,221 (-3.4%)
- Hunterdon: 128,947 (+0.5%)
- Warren: 109,632 (+0.9%)
- Cape May: 95,263 (-2.1%)
- Salem: 64,837 (-1.9%)
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.