New Census Figures Reveal More Seniors, Fewer Kids in City

The latest census figures show New York City has far more baby boomers and seniors and fewer children.

According to the 2010 figures, there were 941,313 children between the ages of 5 and 14 across the five boroughs, a 14 percent drop from the 2000 census. At the same time, 890,012 New Yorkers were between the ages of 55 and 64, a 30 percent increase in the last 10 years.

Change in Population by Age, 2000-2010

Chart: Balance.Coop for WNYC, Data: US Census

The city's overall population of 8.175 million represents a two percent growth over the previous census, although city officials are contesting that estimate, arguing that thousands of New Yorkers went uncounted.

While that process may take months or even years to sort out, the census bureau has in the meantime shed additional light on the composition of New York City.

The median age is 35.5, up from 34.2 in 2000, and several years under the state's median age of 38. Within the city, 47.5 percent of the population is male, and 52.5 percent is female. Just under 1 million, or 31 percent, of the city's three million housing units were owner-occupied, up marginally from the previous census.

While baby boomers experienced solid growth, the city's 85-plus age bracket also grew — by 16 percent.

Bobbie Sackman, of the Council of Senior Centers and Services, said a growing number of seniors tend to be from immigrants.

"Folks that are coming from China and Korea, they're coming here old," Sackman said. "So they're not like, 'Oh, I came when I was 30, and I got married and I raised a family,' which has its own challenges. But imagine coming from China or Korea, and you don't speak English. The culture shock, and you're coming to stay with your family, of course, but also you might be helping to raise the grandchildren. ... We definitely see that happening."

While the city's Chinese population grew by 35 percent, the Mexican population experienced even greater growth, expanding by 71 percent. Within Staten Island, the community grew by 140 percent.

Daniel Coates of Make the Road New York's Staten Island office said the bulk of the Mexican population in the borough came from the states of Puebla and Oaxaca and often immigrated because they knew family or friends who had made the journey.

"The federal government came up with a statistic saying that immigrants are 30 percent [more] likely to start businesses than American-born people," said Coates, "and Mexicans, I think, are examples of that."