Home>Highlight>Most of New Jersey’s largest cities got less white between 2010 and 2020

Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo: Perkins Eastman).

Most of New Jersey’s largest cities got less white between 2010 and 2020

By Joey Fox, September 17 2021 11:59 am

Eight of New Jersey’s 10 largest municipalities were less white in 2020 than they were in 2010, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last month, aligning with statistics showing that New Jersey as a whole is growing more diverse and may become majority-minority within the next decade.

As the white population fell, Hispanic and Asian populations grew in nearly all of the 10 municipalities. The Black population in most of the municipalities held steady or fell slightly, mirroring the state overall, where the non-Hispanic Black population fell from 12.8% to 12.4%. 

The statistics paint a picture of urban New Jersey that is more diverse – and, specifically, more Hispanic and Asian – than it has ever been.

Woodbridge, Hamilton, and Edison see largest white percentage declines

The white population in three of the state’s ten largest municipalities – Woodbridge, Edison, and Mercer County’s Hamilton Township – declined by more than 10% of the overall population, though the story in each is different.

In Edison, Asians already made up a plurality of the city’s residents as of 2010, but the 2020 Census confirmed that their numbers are still increasing. The city is now nearly 54% Asian – up from 43% from 2010 – and only 26% white, down from 40%. 

Right next door, Woodbridge Township tells a somewhat different story. There, both Hispanic and Asian populations are growing quickly, while the white population fell from a bare majority (51%) in 2010 down to 39%; whites nevertheless remain the township’s largest racial group.

Finally, suburban Trenton’s Hamilton Township – 83% white as recently as 2000 – fell to below 60% white, with the Hispanic population rising to nearly 20%. The township, which has the state’s highest proportion of state government employees, has long stood in contrast to majority-minority Trenton, but the numbers from 2020 show that it is rapidly diversifying.

Newark’s white population dips below 10%

Newark, the largest city in the state, hit an intriguing milestone as of the 2020 Census: for the first time in history, the city is less than 10% white.

Once a white ethnic and Jewish bastion (as famously chronicled by Newark-born novelist Philip Roth), the city experienced colossal white flight in the 1950s and 1960s, as white residents moved to the suburbs and predominantly Black residents took their place.

In 2010, whites were already a distinct minority in the city at around 12%, but they fell even further in the following decade, down to 8%. Interestingly, the Black population also fell by a small amount; mirroring trends elsewhere in urban America, the city is instead slowly becoming more Hispanic.

Asians now the largest population group in Jersey City

It’s now Asians, not Hispanics, that represent the largest population group in Jersey City, although all four major ethnic groups remain well-represented in the state’s second-largest city.

Unlike other North Jersey cities such as Newark, Edison, and Elizabeth, Jersey City never gained a reputation as an enclave for one racial group or another, and in 2020 no one group accounted for more than 30% of the city’s population. But in a potential sign of the city’s ongoing gentrification, white and Asian populations are on the rise, while Black and Hispanic populations are falling.

Trenton is no longer plurality Black

The largest decline in the Black population among the 10 largest cities was in Trenton, where Black people are now 42% of the population, down from just shy of 50% in 2010. Much like Newark, the white population also fell below to 10% for the first time in the city’s history.

This decline in white and Black residents leaves Hispanics as the new largest population group in the capital city, comprising 45% of the city’s residents – well up from 34% in 2010.

Bucking trends, Lakewood grew significantly less diverse

Lakewood, the booming Ocean County town that’s quickly becoming one of New Jersey’s major metropoles, was unusual in that its white population grew between 2010 and 2020. It’s now 82% non-Hispanic white, up from 75% in 2010.

Much of the white population’s growth, and the growth of the town in general, comes from the Orthodox Jewish community, who make up an estimated two-thirds of the population. The town’s Black and Hispanic populations, meanwhile, have experienced shrinkage.

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