Bronx population plummets with one of the highest declines in the country

Since 1980, The Bronx has seen consistent growth; however, it is now facing a steep population decrease. Recent census data reveals that among counties with over 20,000 inhabitants, The Bronx has the 5th largest numeric population decline and the 7th highest percentage drop since last year as per new census estimates.

The United States Census Bureau reports that The Bronx’s population reached a record 1,472,656 on April 1, 2020, but decreased to 1,421,089 by July 1, 2021, and further to 1,379,946 by July 1, 2022 according to the latest estimates.

With the 2020 census, The Bronx, if it were a city of its own, would have been the 7th largest city by population, in the nation.

If the estimates are indeed accurate, the reduction of nearly 100,000 residents since 2020 represents the most significant decline since the 1980s when The Bronx’s population dropped by 20.6% between 1970 and 1980, losing over 300,000 residents during the peak of the great decline in the borough as residents fled to the suburbs fleeing planned shrinkage and urban decay set forth by racist government policies.

Following the 1990 census, The Bronx experienced remarkable growth, becoming one of the fastest-growing counties in both New York State and the nation. Residents returned to the area, filling the numerous new housing units constructed throughout the borough.

By April 2020, The Bronx’s population not only recovered to its 1970 level of 1,471,701 residents but also surpassed it, reaching a high of 1,472,656.

But it seemed that the growth was short-lived, at least, for the time being.

According to the New York Post:

“Population loss in the city is driven by three factors: federal immigration policies and COVID-19 restrictions that reduced foreign immigration, historically the source of population growth in the city; the shortage of affordable housing; and high taxes that drive high earners to relocate to states where they can keep at least 50% of their earnings, which is not the case in New York City since the federal government capped the deduction of state and local taxes from federal income tax liabilities,” said Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the NYC Partnership.

All of these factors are applicable to The Bronx as it is one of the most rent-burdened boroughs in the city and has a high immigrant population.

If we don’t shift towards constructing more truly affordable housing, don’t expect the population to return back to its 2020 peak anytime soon.

With thousands of luxury units being constructed or already completed in the South Bronx and many of them vacant, it’s clear that that’s not the kind of housing that is in demand in the borough.

If you want people to return to the borough, first address the housing crisis that is needed by the majority and not luxury that is clearly not needed at this scale in our borough.

The US Census Bureau conducts these yearly estimates utilizing a combination of birth, deaths, and migration data to calculate these estimates.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.