More seniors, more immigrants, and fewer kids
If population trends continue the way they have been, there will be more of us living in Westchester in the year 2020. In 2007, the most recent year for which there is available data, the population of the county reached more than 951,000, compared to 875,000-plus in 1990—a population increase of approximately 8 percent. (In comparison, Fairfield County similarly grew by 8 percent between 1990 and 2007, from 828,000 to 895,000 people, and Rockland County grew even more, increasing by 11 percent from 265,000 to 296,000.) As of 2008, the county’s population continued to increase, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a group that does population projections for the county, predicts the population will reach 1,194,000 in 2020.
But growth is not hitting all demographic segments equally. In fact, rather than growth, the county has experienced declines in two particular age groups: the 25- to 44-year-old population, and, consequently, the under-15-year-old population, especially those who are white. (Since 2000, the county has lost more than 33,700 25- to 44-year-olds and 8,200 under-15-year-olds.) Many people in this age group have found more jobs available and a cheaper cost of living in the American South and West. This means the county is graying. Westchester actually has seen increases in the number of people who are 75 or older. The Department of Planning predicts that if the trends continue, the elderly will account for a greater share of the county’s total population in 2020 than at any point in recent history.
Immigrants also are bolstering the population—coming from the Caribbean, Asia, India, Eastern Europe, and especially Hispanic countries. Since 2000, the county has gained more than 31,000 Hispanic immigrants. The Department of Planning predicts that, if this trend continues, whites will no longer be a majority of the county’s population by 2020—or even sooner. Of course, that will only remain true in the year 2020 if things continue the way they have been for the past 10 years—and the economy is a major factor that has not stayed the same so far this decade. Westchester’s high cost of living may cause an increase migration to other, cheaper parts of the country. A bottoming-out of the building industry may stem the tide of immigration of people who came here to work construction jobs.