Census Results: A Shake-Up in the Garden State

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, Sam Roberts, urban affairs correspondent for The New York Times, discusses the 2010 Census results and what they reveal about New Jersey.

New Jersey is set to lose one seat in the House of Representatives as a result of a decade of relatively small population growth. Roberts says the phenomena of the shrinking city is evident in New Jersey as in other urban areas across the country. Some areas, however, are bucking the trend.

One of the fascinating things about the 2001 Census is that Newark grew. [It] grew slightly, just about one percent or so, but it was the first time Newark grew in about three decades.

While growth by itself is not always necessarily positive, Roberts said the increased economic activity that drives growth may be sign that an area is becoming stronger. In New Jersey, growth was particularly evident in southern counties.

What you’re seeing is suburban growth. You’re seeing suburban growth away from the northeastern suburbs of New York City, which means a shift, probably to some extent, in political clout. We’ll see that in legislative reapportionment first, and then a little bit to a lesser extent in congressional apportionment… New Jersey will lose one congressional seat and a lot of jockeying [is] going to go on to see whose seat that is.

The biggest growth was in Ocean County, with a 13 percent population increase since 2000. Roberts said that may be partially due to people being priced out of northern suburbs, but he also cited the high number of retirement communities found in Ocean County to help explain the increase.

There is a very high ratio of older people, however we define that these days, compared to younger ones. In fact, the dependency ratio — the number of people who are over 65 compared to the working population — is about the same in Ocean county as it is in Japan these days.

Ocean County also had the fastest growing individual township in the state, the township of Lakewood, which increased by 54 percent from a decade ago. Lakewood is too far to commute to New York City, but Roberts says this census also indicates that people are now more likely to be working closer to where they live.

Not everyone who lives in the suburbs commutes into the city… just as not everyone who lives in Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens [and] Staten Island commutes into Manhattan anymore.

He said more while jobs are evident in suburbia, there is also more suburban poverty, not just in New Jersey but across the nation.

That could be a reflection of more minorities moving in, although again, a lot of those minority people are middle class or lower middle class, but also [of] increases in pockets of poverty that go beyond the traditional city areas.

Lakewood has a growing Orthodox community, senior population and Hispanic influx. The diversity within this last group Roberts finds particularly interesting.

It’s not just an increase in Hispanic people, it’s a very diverse group of Hispanic people, as we’ve seen with the Asian population nationally and with the Hispanic population nationally. These are coming form all over Central and South America… a great deal of variety in where people are coming from.

While New Jersey grew in population overall, the population in the southern and western United States grew faster, so those states will gain some seats and New Jersey will lose one. Roberts said the change in population within New Jersey to the southern counties will bring about a political shift in-state as well.  He believes the coming redistricting battles are sure to be rough.

Redistricting is a process which is not only arbitrary but aggravating to many people, because politicians are usually most interested in self preservation, and clearly someone in this equation is going to have to be sacrificed.


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Comments [4]

Johnny from Elmhurst, N.Y

Mr. Lehrer,

Please, when you use the word Hispanic to describe a whole population that represents people with origins in Latino America... you denying the full meaning of what we embody.

Hispanic just means someone who comes from a land where Spanish is the language but it does not determine our race. You speak English... but that does not mean your speaking of English tells me where you come from or your race.

Someone from Spain is hispanic... but they are not Latino. People from Spain are European... meaning, they invaded the Americas when they conquered Latino America. Please, respect our Latino history, and refer to us as such.

Now, are we hispanic too? Yes, but when you only and solely constantly refer to us during the 2010 Census conversation as hispanic it means you deny our full meaning.

Latino means someone with roots in the Americas... and it defines who we fully are. People from North America want to deny we have roots in the Americas too. This is why we fight to be called Latino... because with that comes the meaning that we already belong to the Americas. We come from the Americas that the Spaniards and the Portuguese came to conquer. Therefore, our Brazilian kin are also Latino... they too have ties to Latin Portugal... but they are from the Americas... have extensions with the American indigenous in the Amazons.. they are therefore Latino.

That is how language comes to life. Add one letter and it affects the meaning of a word. The word 'TAX'.. add the letter 'i' and it becomes 'TAXI'. The word hose.. add the letter 'u', it becomes 'house'.

So, Latino is different than Latin since the letter 'o' is added to it and that acknowledges our indigenous American roots. Please, acknowlegde that we are from the Americas... we are different than the Spaniards who are solely hispanic - Latin and European.

We are Latino... sometimes we can also hispanic.. but we are not always hispanic because our counterparts in Brazil do NOT speak spanish... they speak Portuguese. But they are definitely Latino too.

So, please, when you just only say we are hispanic... it's as if you wish to deny our roots in the Americas... as if only people from North America are the 'real' Americans. This is why we keep saying we are not illegal... we are from the Americas more than the Europeans can say they are from the Americas.

You call yourself an American... so, please, acknowledge our American history too by referring to us as Latino.

By the way, closing point of interest... Latino is the first race in the history of the world to not be limited to ONE color. We are a mixture of African, White European and American Indigenous... but our roots are now in the Americas and that is what can not be denied. Thank you.

- Johnny

Mar. 10 2011 11:19 AM
Hazel Sharpe from Hudson County NJ

You're right Becky. Average earning, working and middle class people cannot afford JC anymore. Hoboken's been lost to lower-middle class earners for awhile. Union City is next.

Mar. 10 2011 10:58 AM
John from Annandale, NJ

When I moved here 15 years ago, New Jersey had the highest number of people per square mile than any state in the country. Is that still the same? From what I can see, there's more people here than ever before. (Yuck.)

Mar. 10 2011 10:58 AM
The Truth from Becky

Certain groups are being priced out of the area...period point blank

Mar. 10 2011 10:52 AM

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