Bye, bye: U.S. Census shows Bronx suffered fifth-highest population decline

Aerial view of the Bronx, NY
Among the city’s 250 “worst” apartment buildings, the Bronx is the most-represented with 2,006 homes, with large clusters of poorly-maintained buildings in South Bronx council districts 16 and 17 and Council District 15, one of the city’s highest eviction zones.
Photo courtesy Getty Images

The Bronx saw the fifth-largest population decline in the nation — a decline of roughly 41,000 residents from July 2021 to July 2022 — according to a recent U.S. Census report.

In addition to the Bronx, two other New York counties also experienced highest-in-the-nation population decreases, where Queens and Kings counties lost around 46,000 and more than 50,000 residents, respectively.

The Bronx was one of 10 counties in the nation that saw higher-than-expected growth over the past decade — reaching an all-time high of 1.47 million residents — per the 2020 U.S. Census data. Much of the Bronx’s growth — an addition of 87,546 people — over the past decade can be attributed to population increases in Morrisania (22%) and Crotona Park East (15%).

But since then, the borough has seen its population drop by about 81,000 from April 2020 to July 2022, leaving roughly 1.3 million Bronxites remaining in the Boogie Down.

The recent exodus out of New York City, census officials say, is part of a rising trend in domestic outmigration for other Northeast corridors such as Boston and Washington, D.C., which is often motivated by better-paying jobs and living conditions, according to sociologists.

Where did everyone go?

Census data points to the South and the West, where 10 of the fastest-growing counties are located, including counties with big migration hubs like Phoenix and Houston. College towns in urban settings also saw boosts in new residents over the July-to-July timespan.

“The migration and growth patterns for counties edged closer to pre-pandemic levels this year,” said Dr. Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections in the Census Bureau’s population division. “Some urban counties, such as Dallas and San Francisco, saw domestic outmigration at a slower pace between 2021 and 2022, compared to the prior year. Meanwhile, many counties with large universities saw their populations fully rebound this year as students returned.”

Census officials told the Bronx Times that deeper outmigration data for Bronx neighborhoods since 2021 is not currently available.

The Bronx has the highest poverty rate in the state, with 26% of its residents considered impoverished. The South Bronx — comprised of 98% Black and Latino families, according to census data — is one of the most poverty-stricken and job-needy districts in the U.S., where more than 40% of the region’s children live in poverty.

Some Bronxites also may be leaving due to limiting housing options and the second-highest eviction filing rate in the state in 2022.

The U.S. population grew by just 0.38% between July 2021 and July 2022 — higher than the historically low 0.16% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. A major contributor to the nation’s small population growth uptick was an increase in immigration, according to census data.

Census officials say that headcounts apply to all residents regardless of immigration status, including undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, populations that have increased since the summer.

— Camille Botello contributed to this report

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.