COVID-Related Island Population Rise – 2020 Census Data Reveals Many Changes
Data from the 2020 U.S. Census shows strong population growth on Shelter Island, a 36% increase from what it was at the time of the 2010 census.
The latest figures show that in 2020, 3,253 people called Shelter Island home, up from 2,392 people on the island 10 years earlier.
Additionally, projected data in 2019 showed a much smaller increase, with the island’s population predicted to have increased to 2,414, according to the US Census Bureau.
Why this gap over a period of only two years? School numbers and real estate data tell the story.
As of September 2020, school officials expected 215 students due to the number of families who had moved to the island from more congested population areas. By September 2021, with COVID appearing to decline as a threat, that number had dropped to 190.
Real estate sales have also been a key driver of population growth. Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund transfer taxes in 2020 and through 2021 revealed a meteoric rise in property sales. Revenue from land preservation and water quality improvement projects nearly doubled on the island and didn’t begin to decline to more typical amounts until later in 2021.
The median household income stood at $84,643, according to the 2020 census. But just a year earlier, in 2019, it was projected at $79,8543.
The number of dwelling structures was 2,731, according to the last census. In 2010, with so many people calling Shelter Island their second home, the numbers dropped to an average of 0.87 people per housing unit.
The decline in school enrollment shown in September 2021 compared to the previous September prompted Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., to speculate that more families needed to move to cities as parents’ ability to work remotely diminished and they were forced to return to the city offices. .
Whether the recent spike in Omicron business will lead to a turnaround again remains to be seen. And, of course, the question that guides all changes is whether future variants can be controlled as endemic, like the flu, or continue as a pandemic.
Other data from the 2020 census showed:
• 1.4% of residents without health insurance
• 289 residents self-identifying as Hispanic or Latino
• 14% of the population of the island indicate that their age is between 65 and 74 years old, while 6.6% are registered between 75 and 84 years old and 7.1% indicate that they are aged 85 or more. Overall, the 27.7% of residents age 65 or older are consistent with 2010 data.
• 82.6% said that English is the only language they use, while 12.3% said that they speak Spanish; 4.2% speaking other European languages; and 0.9% speaking Asian languages.