Census Bureau says N.J. losing population at a faster clip than most other states

Published: Dec. 24, 2021

New Jersey lost more people over the last year than all but seven other states as the coronavirus pandemic took its toll, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show.

The bureau estimated that the state’s population dropped by 12,613 people between July 2020 and July 2021. And even the July 2020 figures were below official census numbers that put the state’s population at 9,288,994, defying estimates and enabling New Jersey to retain all of its 12 congressional districts.

“The estimates should be paid attention to,” said James W. Hughes, dean emeritus of the Bloustein School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers University. “The world changed dramatically after April 2020,” when the pandemic hit the U.S. full force.

New Jersey, one of the first states to feel the full brunt of the pandemic, reported 28,822 deaths — 25,980 confirmed deaths and 2,842 probable — through Thursday.

In addition, Hughes said, many older residents retired during the pandemic and moved to warmer climates, while immigration slowed dramatically. Immigrants account for almost 1 in every 4 residents in the state, according to the American Immigration Council, making up for the continuing migration of people moving from the Northeast to southern states.

“It’s an indication that New Jersey has to be concerned about housing costs, economic opportunities in the South compared with economic opportunities here,” Hughes said. “It also reflects declining immigration. Immigration had bene out growth locomotive.”

Still, Hughes cautioned, “the old adage is one year does not a trend make.”

New Jersey beat the last decade’s estimates by a higher margin than any other state as officials engaged in a massive campaign to get everyone counted.

“Estimates though the 2010s showed New Jersey flatlining and losing population at the end of the decade,” Hughes said. “Then the census came in. That raises questions about the credibility of the annual estimates.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-12-25 04:01:07 -0800