Nassau County demographic report finds aging and diversifying population

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Nassau County’s population is aging and diversifying, and is growing slowly,  according to a demographic report released by Comptroller Jack Schnirman last week.

The county has grown 2.6 percent since 2000. From 2000 to 2016, the population 55 to 64 years old increased by 48 percent, while the population from ages 25 to 44 fell by 18 percent. Immigrants make up 22 percent of the county’s population.

The demographic profile says that Nassau County is experiencing a “brain drain,” which is when a region’s working-age high-skilled population moves away, typically to an urban area.

The growth of the county’s population has been slower than that of the nation’s, which the U.S. Census Bureau estimates to have increased almost 6 percent from 2010 to July 2018.

A section of the report highlighting the Town of North Hempstead shows the trends are similar on the town level.

The town has seen a 3.2 percent increase in population, with the report listing 229,640 people. Immigrants make up 29 percent of the population.

North Hempstead is also experiencing an aging population with the people between 55 and 64 having increased by 27 percent from 2000 to 2016. In turn, the number of people in the 25-44 group decreased by 10 percent.

Four of every 10 residents in the Town of North Hempstead are minority members.

North Hempstead’s population in 2016 was 61 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 14 percent Hispanic/Latino, 5 percent black, and 2 percent other.

Schnirman formed the Policy and Research Unit in the fall to aid the county in devising policies that meet the needs of the population. The purpose of the report, it states, was to understand the demographic composition of the county “in order to efficiently allocate resources, inform the policy-making process, and improve the quality of life in Nassau County.”

“Our office is taking the data about our changing County and bringing it directly to the local leaders best in a position to make impactful changes. We are taking issues that have previously only been discussed at the highest levels and bringing it to a local audience,” Schnirman said in a statement.

The large increase in the senior population, with the aging of baby boomers, along with the loss of young professionals can result in a declining tax base and a rising demand for public services, the report states.

Since it is imperative to retain working-age young adults, who are typically leaving the county citing property taxes and housing costs, the report concludes that the county will need to “expand affordable housing options, walkable downtowns, and public transportation to remain competitive.”

The need to attract a younger population is partly explained by the slow rate of population growth that is characterized in the report. The county is experiencing a decreasing birth rate and most of the population growth is driven by immigrants.

Therefore, the county will also need to adapt to the increasing diversity of its inhabitants. PolicyLink, a national research group that says it works to advance racial and economic equity, projects that the county will become majority-minority in the early 2030s, pointing to the minority population reaching 38 percent in 2016.

According to the comptroller’s report, 11.7 percent of the population “speaks English less than ‘very well” and it suggests language access legislation as a way to “provide equitable access to goods and services on Long Island.”

PolicyLink found that the county could have been $24 billion stronger in 2014 by closing the racial income gap. The report cites equity as an important tool to “achieving sustainable economic growth and prosperity” for an increasingly diversifying population.

“Government needs to better serve its entire population if we are to keep growing our local economy. That means we must gear up to better communicate and provide services to an increasingly aging and diverse population while also putting policies in place that will attract young people,” Schnirman said in a statement.

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