Home>Feature>Lakewood sees highest population growth, Cape May has largest decrease

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. (Photo: Richard Turner).

Lakewood sees highest population growth, Cape May has largest decrease

By Joey Fox, August 12 2021 3:11 pm

According to municipal-level data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, Lakewood had the largest population growth rate of New Jersey municipalities over 1,000 people between 2010 and 2020, growing by a staggering 45.6%. 

The Ocean County township’s population of 135,158 puts it 5th in the state overall, and blows past its 2019 population estimate of 106,300. The explosive growth may have significant implications for legislative redistricting, with the town bordering four other large municipalities.

Coming in second for overall population growth was the far smaller Hudson County town of Harrison, which grew from 13,620 people to 19,450, an increase of 42.8%.

Three other municipalities had population increases of 30% or greater: Weehawken, Secaucus, and Wood-Ridge, all suburbs in the New York City metropolitan area with populations of around 20,000. Another 11 saw increases of 20% or more.

Among large municipalities with populations over 50,000, Lakewood is still the fastest-growing, while Monroe in Middlesex County and Hoboken in Hudson County come in second and third with growth rates of 24.2% and 20.8%, respectively.

The municipality with over 1,000 people that saw the largest population decrease, meanwhile, was Cape May. The state’s southernmost city, Cape May’s population fell from 3,607 in 2010 to 2,768 in 2020 for a decrease of 23.3%.

Two other cities, Cumberland County’s Maurice River and Hunterdon County’s West Amwell, had decreases of greater than 20%. Another two, Brigantine in Atlantic County and Mannington in Salem County, fell by around 18%.

When all municipalities – not just those with populations over 1,000 – are included, Lakewood is overtaken for the top spot by two of New Jersey’s smallest municipalities, Tavistock and Pine Valley, both in Camden County. Tavistock grew from five to nine people for an 80% increase, while Pine Valley went from 12 to 21 for a 75% increase.

Equally tiny Walpack, on the other hand, went from 16 residents to seven, a decrease of 56.3%. This means that the Sussex County township, formerly third to last, is now the smallest municipality in the state by population.

Overall, 364 municipalities increased in population, and another 200 decreased. One municipality, Mendham Borough in Morris County, remarkably kept its population exactly the same at 4,981.

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