407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
Change Font Size
Larger
| Smaller
James W. Hughes
James W. Hughes
Joseph J. Seneca
Joseph J. Seneca
Americans on the Move
Population Slump Saps Our Political
and Economic Strength

New Jersey's lagging population growth, evident since 1970, slowed even more during the past several years. This trend will affect our national representation and our ability to attract federal funding.

In September 2006 the U.S. population is expected to top 300 million for the first time. This is just 37 years after it reached 200 million persons in 1969.

This year’s rate of growth will be one person every 14 seconds. However, based on its snail-like demographic experience of 2005, New Jersey will be only a minor contributor to this gain. Belying ever-growing highway congestion and sustained housing and commercial development, the state’s lagging population growth, evident since 1970, slowed even more during the past several years. If this trend continues, New Jersey could lose a congressional seat following the 2010 census, a full decade sooner than has been previously projected. At a minimum, it will result in the loss of population-based federal aid and national economic clout. Let’s take a quick look in the demographic rear view mirror in order to understand our current position.

The Long-Term Perspective As shown in Figure 1, New Jersey accounted for 3.2 percent of the nation’s population in 1950. But tract-house suburbanization engulfed the state over the next 20 years, as middle-class families with children moved out of New York City and Philadelphia and into New Jersey. As a result, the state’s population growth accelerated markedly, with our share of the nation’s population increasing to 3.4 percent by 1960 and to 3.5 percent by 1970. But then a demographic slowdown began, as the nation’s population and job growth increasingly shifted to the South and West. By 1990, our population share fell to 3.1 percent, below that of 1950, and then declined further to 2.9 percent in 2005.
In 1970, the Northeast Region contained 24.1 percent of the nation’s population, while the Middle Atlantic Division—consisting of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — accounted for 18.3 percent. By 2005, the region’s share fell to 18.4 percent while the division’s share fell to 13.6 percent. The “winners” of this demographic repositioning have been the South and West, while the Midwest joined the Northeast as “losers.” In 1970, the Northeast and Midwest together still had a slight majority of the nation’s population (51.9 percent), while the South and West had a slight minority (48 percent). By 2005, the population share of the South and West (59.3 percent) had soared to an overwhelming majority, while the Northeast and Midwest (40.7 percent) were reduced to an “under-whelming” minority. Very simply, New Jersey is riding in the caboose of the national demographic train.

The Recent Slowdown In addition, since 2002, New Jersey’s annual population growth has steadily declined, from 71,225 persons in 2002 (0.84 percent), to 63,939 persons in 2003 (0.75 percent), to 45,138 persons in 2004 (0.52 percent), and to 32,759 persons in 2005 (.38 percent). New Jersey’s 2005 annual population growth was less than half that of 2002, and the 2005 growth rate ranked 39th among the 50 states. As a result of our slow growth, Georgia replaced New Jersey as the ninth most populous state in 2002 and, by the end of 2006; North Carolina should replace New Jersey as the tenth most populous state. So, New Jersey, which ranked eighth in total population in 1970, fell to ninth by 1980, and to tenth by 2002. By the end of this year, we will rank 11th.

Population bar chart

The Components of Change The reduction of New Jersey’s growth to a virtual crawl was principally due to the slowing of net international immigration flows into the state, and to a growing net internal outmigration from it. Net internal migration consists of the difference between the number of people moving from New Jersey to the balance of the nation and the number of people moving into New Jersey from the balance of the nation. In 2005, the state had a net internal migration loss of 56,989 people, i.e., 56,989 more people left New Jersey than entered it. This is far higher annual outflow than earlier in the decade.

At the same time, New Jersey had a positive net inmigration from abroad of 47,392 people in 2005, which was far lower than earlier in the decade. As a result, the state had an overall net migration loss of 9,597 people (47,392-in, versus 56,989-out) in 2005, compared with positive overall net migration gains earlier in the decade. In total, New Jersey still had an overall population growth (32,759 people) in 2005 because the state’s net natural increase (births minus deaths) of nearly 42,341 people more than offset the net migration losses (-9,597 people). But, New Jersey’s demographic bottom line still is a tortise-like pace of growth.

Population change chart

The Consequences If the 2005 experience sets the pattern for the balance of the decade, New Jersey could be in danger of losing one of its current 13 seats in the House of Representatives. The state had 15 seats as recently as 1970, but lost one seat in 1980 and another in 1990 as New Jersey’s population growth lagged the nation. The loss of seats in New Jersey is symptomatic of what has been happening across the Northeast. New York, which currently has 29 seats in the House of Representatives, has lost 14 seats since 1950 and is projected to lose another two seats by 2010. Massachusetts, with 10 seats currently, has lost 4 seats since 1950 and is likely to lose another by 2010. Pennsylvania currently has 19 seats, but has experienced a loss of 11 seats since 1950.

Thus, the political balance of power continues to shift in favor of the South and West. In 1940, the Northeast and Midwestern states had 251 seats in the House of Representatives (57.7 percent) compared to 184 seats for the South and West (42.3 percent). By 1970s, differential population growth rates across the regions had resulted in a near equal balance with the Northeast and Midwestern states having 225 seats and the South and West with 210 seats. And now in 2006, 36 years later, the current distribution of seats in the House of Representatives is nearly exactly reversed from the 1940—the Northeast and Midwest have 183 seats (42 percent) and the South and West have 252 seats (58 percent).

With shifts of this magnitude, and the likelihood of further erosion based on current population trends, the political and economic muscle of the Northeast will continue to atrophy. For New Jersey, a state deeply concerned with sprawl, land use, housing affordability, congestion and environmental quality, the reduction in population growth offers some welcomed relief from what seems like ever increasing pressures from these vexing problems. However, the downside of the slowdown in population growth is the loss in economic opportunity and all-important federal influence that inevitably follows from the reduction in representation in Congress for New Jersey and for its sister states in the Northeast Region.


James W. Hughes is Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

Josep NJLM - Population Growth

407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
Change Font Size
Larger
| Smaller
James W. Hughes
James W. Hughes
Joseph J. Seneca
Joseph J. Seneca
Americans on the Move
Population Slump Saps Our Political
and Economic Strength

New Jersey's lagging population growth, evident since 1970, slowed even more during the past several years. This trend will affect our national representation and our ability to attract federal funding.

In September 2006 the U.S. population is expected to top 300 million for the first time. This is just 37 years after it reached 200 million persons in 1969.

This year’s rate of growth will be one person every 14 seconds. However, based on its snail-like demographic experience of 2005, New Jersey will be only a minor contributor to this gain. Belying ever-growing highway congestion and sustained housing and commercial development, the state’s lagging population growth, evident since 1970, slowed even more during the past several years. If this trend continues, New Jersey could lose a congressional seat following the 2010 census, a full decade sooner than has been previously projected. At a minimum, it will result in the loss of population-based federal aid and national economic clout. Let’s take a quick look in the demographic rear view mirror in order to understand our current position.

The Long-Term Perspective As shown in Figure 1, New Jersey accounted for 3.2 percent of the nation’s population in 1950. But tract-house suburbanization engulfed the state over the next 20 years, as middle-class families with children moved out of New York City and Philadelphia and into New Jersey. As a result, the state’s population growth accelerated markedly, with our share of the nation’s population increasing to 3.4 percent by 1960 and to 3.5 percent by 1970. But then a demographic slowdown began, as the nation’s population and job growth increasingly shifted to the South and West. By 1990, our population share fell to 3.1 percent, below that of 1950, and then declined further to 2.9 percent in 2005.
In 1970, the Northeast Region contained 24.1 percent of the nation’s population, while the Middle Atlantic Division—consisting of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — accounted for 18.3 percent. By 2005, the region’s share fell to 18.4 percent while the division’s share fell to 13.6 percent. The “winners” of this demographic repositioning have been the South and West, while the Midwest joined the Northeast as “losers.” In 1970, the Northeast and Midwest together still had a slight majority of the nation’s population (51.9 percent), while the South and West had a slight minority (48 percent). By 2005, the population share of the South and West (59.3 percent) had soared to an overwhelming majority, while the Northeast and Midwest (40.7 percent) were reduced to an “under-whelming” minority. Very simply, New Jersey is riding in the caboose of the national demographic train.

The Recent Slowdown In addition, since 2002, New Jersey’s annual population growth has steadily declined, from 71,225 persons in 2002 (0.84 percent), to 63,939 persons in 2003 (0.75 percent), to 45,138 persons in 2004 (0.52 percent), and to 32,759 persons in 2005 (.38 percent). New Jersey’s 2005 annual population growth was less than half that of 2002, and the 2005 growth rate ranked 39th among the 50 states. As a result of our slow growth, Georgia replaced New Jersey as the ninth most populous state in 2002 and, by the end of 2006; North Carolina should replace New Jersey as the tenth most populous state. So, New Jersey, which ranked eighth in total population in 1970, fell to ninth by 1980, and to tenth by 2002. By the end of this year, we will rank 11th.

Population bar chart

The Components of Change The reduction of New Jersey’s growth to a virtual crawl was principally due to the slowing of net international immigration flows into the state, and to a growing net internal outmigration from it. Net internal migration consists of the difference between the number of people moving from New Jersey to the balance of the nation and the number of people moving into New Jersey from the balance of the nation. In 2005, the state had a net internal migration loss of 56,989 people, i.e., 56,989 more people left New Jersey than entered it. This is far higher annual outflow than earlier in the decade.

At the same time, New Jersey had a positive net inmigration from abroad of 47,392 people in 2005, which was far lower than earlier in the decade. As a result, the state had an overall net migration loss of 9,597 people (47,392-in, versus 56,989-out) in 2005, compared with positive overall net migration gains earlier in the decade. In total, New Jersey still had an overall population growth (32,759 people) in 2005 because the state’s net natural increase (births minus deaths) of nearly 42,341 people more than offset the net migration losses (-9,597 people). But, New Jersey’s demographic bottom line still is a tortise-like pace of growth.

Population change chart

The Consequences If the 2005 experience sets the pattern for the balance of the decade, New Jersey could be in danger of losing one of its current 13 seats in the House of Representatives. The state had 15 seats as recently as 1970, but lost one seat in 1980 and another in 1990 as New Jersey’s population growth lagged the nation. The loss of seats in New Jersey is symptomatic of what has been happening across the Northeast. New York, which currently has 29 seats in the House of Representatives, has lost 14 seats since 1950 and is projected to lose another two seats by 2010. Massachusetts, with 10 seats currently, has lost 4 seats since 1950 and is likely to lose another by 2010. Pennsylvania currently has 19 seats, but has experienced a loss of 11 seats since 1950.

Thus, the political balance of power continues to shift in favor of the South and West. In 1940, the Northeast and Midwestern states had 251 seats in the House of Representatives (57.7 percent) compared to 184 seats for the South and West (42.3 percent). By 1970s, differential population growth rates across the regions had resulted in a near equal balance with the Northeast and Midwestern states having 225 seats and the South and West with 210 seats. And now in 2006, 36 years later, the current distribution of seats in the House of Representatives is nearly exactly reversed from the 1940—the Northeast and Midwest have 183 seats (42 percent) and the South and West have 252 seats (58 percent).

With shifts of this magnitude, and the likelihood of further erosion based on current population trends, the political and economic muscle of the Northeast will continue to atrophy. For New Jersey, a state deeply concerned with sprawl, land use, housing affordability, congestion and environmental quality, the reduction in population growth offers some welcomed relief from what seems like ever increasing pressures from these vexing problems. However, the downside of the slowdown in population growth is the loss in economic opportunity and all-important federal influence that inevitably follows from the reduction in representation in Congress for New Jersey and for its sister states in the Northeast Region.


James W. Hughes is Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

Joseph J. Seneca is University Professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.


Article published in March 2006, New Jersey Municipalities

 

 

 

Click Here to return to the League's Home Page