From the Record:
A decades-long population shift from northeastern New Jersey to other parts of the state has come to an abrupt halt, with Bergen and Hudson counties leading a new growth trend that has potentially broad financial, political and social implications.
New data released Thursday by the Census Bureau show that the number of people living in Bergen County rose almost 4 percent from 2010 to 2015, nearly double the overall rate in the state; Hudson County’s population led the state’s 21 counties, with an estimated growth of more than 6 percent.
Those figures follow decades in which Bergen and Hudson had relatively low increases compared with the rest of the state.
That growth, along with increases in Passaic County, helped nudge upward the proportion of state residents concentrated in the densely populated northeast region — the reverse of a pattern dating to the 1970s.
So far the shift is small: The percentage of New Jersey’s 8.96 million residents living in the five-county region of Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex and Union ticked up from 38.2 percent in 2010 to 38.8 percent in 2015.
At the same time, other parts of New Jersey saw their portion of the population drop.
Overall, the state’s population has increased 1.9 percent since 2010.
That’s well behind the national growth rate of 4.1 percent.
But the New Jersey numbers reveal how a renewed interest in living and working in and around New York City is trumping a long period of ever-outward suburban sprawl, said Rutgers University demographer James Hughes.
“The defining element of New Jersey post-World War II was suburbanization, first with people and then jobs. That trend has stopped dead in its tracks,” said Hughes, noting that most of the Metropolitan area’s job growth since the late-2000s recession has been in New York City.
“It changes the entire logic of the state,” Hughes said.
So-called millennials, people who grew up around the turn of the century, increasingly prefer the “24/7, l-w-p — live-work-play — environments” of New York City and communities bordering the city, Hughes said.
“A common attitude is, ‘We don’t want to live in the sticks. We are out of here. We want to go to the Hudson River [communities] and Brooklyn,’” he added.
Counterbalancing Hudson, at the other end of the state spectrum, was Sussex County, where the population dropped 3.7 percent and a six-county southern region including Camden, Atlantic and Salem, where the number of residents dropped by about one-half of 1 percent.