Nassau population in decline: Maragos

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Nassau County’s population is projected to decrease by 3 percent by 2024 due to the county’s high cost of living, lack of affordable housing and stagnated industry growth, according to a new report from county Comptroller George Maragos’s office.

According to the report, by 2024 Nassau County’s population of school-aged children – defined as children up to nine years old – will have 60,000 fewer children than in 2000, a 30 percent decrease, while its seniors will make up 27.4 percent of the county’s overall population, up from 22.2 percent in 2012.

In the last 13 years, Nassau County’s population has grown at a 1.3 percent rate, slower than Queens and Suffolk counties and below the state and national averages, according to the report.

To slow these trends, Maragos wrote that Nassau County should emulate booming U.S. cities – the report cites Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C. and California’s Silicon Valley region – that have concentrated economic efforts toward a particular industry that is “self-sustaining and regenerating through innovation.”

“Nassau County and Long Island should be the domestic and global destination for people to come to receive the best treatment, where new revolutionary medicines of the future will be discovered to cure major diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and others,” the report says.

The health care industry is Nassau County’s largest employment sector, which had more than 100,000 jobs in 2012 and even grew during the “Great Recession” period of the late 2000s, according to the report.

Maragos said Nassau County could become “the health care capital of the world” by linking its high-performing hospitals, colleges and laboratories with New York City’s business and entertainment districts via a new, high-speed public transportation system.

“We need to attract the best minds and will require huge investments in infrastructure to 21st century public transportation and communications systems that will bind our institutions together with rapid access to New York City and the global economy,” Maragos wrote.

In an e-mail, Nassau County spokesman Brian Nevin acknowledged the validity of the demographic trends but said County Executive Edward Mangano’s policies of freezing property taxes, enticing new industries and constructing more than 1,000 new rental homes have been as effective in reversing the lack of growth in the county.

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