NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent population estimates, the population in Essex County is on the rise. NJ.com, which hosts content from The Star-Ledger and other affiliated state newspapers, released estimates that all but one Essex County town has seen a growth in population since 2010 — some of these gains being very significant in local areas like Livingston, West Orange and North Caldwell.
The statistics were released in May as part of the “U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Estimates,” an annual survey that tracks basic population figures in the years between the decennial Census. According to NJ.com, these estimates are not as exact as decennial Census figures, but help reveal broad trends that emerge between the agency's 10-year counts.
“The fastest growing and declining towns in New Jersey are emblematic of broader shifts going on in the state, according to new Census data,” NJ.com said. “The growth patterns in Essex, and across New Jersey, generally reflect a nationwide trend of population moves from suburban towns to urban, walkable communities.”
Three of the quickly growing towns noted in the census were Livingston, West Orange and North Caldwell. Livingston, with its current population of 29,931, has gained 565 residents since the 2010 census and 1,891 since 1980. West Orange gained 788 residents since 2010 and 7,485 since 1980 and North Caldwell has gained 600 since 2010.
The U.S. Census Bureau stated that the total population of Essex County in 2014 was 795,723, in comparison with a 784,608 population in 2010. Jersey City has gained nearly 15,000 residents since 2010, making it the fastest growing municipality in the state and a symbol of the Garden State's reinvigorated urban core, according to census data. Data also showed that Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, is the fifth fastest-growing municipality in the state since the Bureau’s previous study in 2010.
NJ.com considered Newark to be one of the broader shifts going on in the state after it had been in a sharp population decline for more than 60 years. The Star-Ledger staff said the major change in population between 2010 and 2014 “furthers the hope of a renaissance in the long-beleaguered city.”
“The growth wasn’t extravagant — the city added around 4,000 people since the turn of the century — but some experts say the data suggests that maybe, just maybe, Newark is beginning to turn a corner after decades of decline,” The Star Ledger said. “The city is attracting immigrants, has seen new public and private investment in development and may be benefiting from renewed interest in city living.”
According to Douglas Massey, the Princeton University director of the office of population research who spoke with The Star Ledger on the subject, this is a common pattern in metropolitan areas like Newark that host a diverse urban economy and are well-positioned in the global economy. He said similar growth is taking place in cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Boston because economically diverse central cities like these and Newark are reviving and attracting new residents in the current era.
"Newark has the distinct advantage of being in the New York metropolitan area, and much of its comparative advantage stems from that fact, and from the fact that land and housing are relatively cheap and Newark is an easy commute into Manhattan," Massey said. "In the current era, economically diverse central cities are reviving and attracting new residents, including immigrants, while old inner suburbs are declining,"
Livingston, West Orange and surrounding towns have been on an incline with many new residential developments. They are also thriving in retail businesses and are in convenient commuting locations much like Newark. According to NJ.com, the Millennial generation recently became the first in state history with a majority-minority population, the signal of a shift that could occur statewide by the end of the decade.
Editor's Note: TAP into West Essex has revised this story since its original publication to correct a misstatement regarding South Orange, NJ.