BY TRONE DOWD
The Department of City Planning (DCP) gave Queens Borough Hall a thorough look this week at the changing landscape of Queens demographics.
The Monday meeting focused primarily on the fluctuating numbers that have been seen across the city over the past two decades. New York City has seen a 7.7 percent increase between 2000 and 2017. That increase translates to growth in the individual boroughs as well. As of last year, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, if counted as their own cities, would rank respectively as the fourth-, fifth- and seventh-largest cities in the entire nation.
Natural population increases, which account for births and deaths, add approximately 15,000 people to Queens’ population. As of 2017, 2,358,582 people live in the borough, according to the DCP.
Joseph Salvo, the DCP’s population director, said that Queens’ trend of annual growth is unique, living up to its “World’s Borough” moniker.
“Queens adds about 15,000 people to the population every year,” Salvo said. “But that doesn’t tell you much of the story. Let’s take a look at domestic migration, which is the exchange that occurs between Queens and the rest of the country, including the other boroughs. Queens exports about 25,000 people a year domestically. But take a look at this: Queens gets it back by virtue of its exchanges with the rest of the world. About 25,000 or so people come in from other countries.”
The DCP broke down the makeup of the borough’s 1,097,976 internationally born residents. As of 2016, Chinese, Guyanese and Ecuadorian people are the top three, with 16 percent, 7.1 percent and 6.6 percent respectively of the borough’s foreign-born population. Bangladesh, Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, India and Korea round out the rest of the list. Natives of all other countries make up the remaining 38.6 percent of the figure.
“This is what alters the composition of your neighborhoods,” Salvo said—“the people who are leaving for other places around the country and the people coming in from other countries.”
Salvo said that Queens’ popularity with immigrants reinforces the importance of offering services for those with limited English.
“You are always going to need English language instruction in the city,” he said. “Because the people who come in are replacing the people who leave. People start here, begin to do better and then leave for other places. As a result, we get more immigrants, and those people need assistance. The limited English-proficient population sits at 29 percent for people ages 5 and over. This figure does not change all that much.”
Looking to the future, the DCP predicts the population of New York will increase from 8.6 million in 2010 to upwards of 9.5 million by the year 2040. In Queens, the DCP expects the population to reach nearly 2,413,000, a 7.2 percent increase since 2010. This figure ranks Queens third in growth over the next two decades, with number one going to the Bronx and the number-two spot going to Brooklyn.
Lastly, Salvo warned community board heads of the drastic increase in the number of elderly residents.
“We’re projecting for New York City that there is going to be an increase of 41 percent of the 65 and older population,” he said. “In Queens we’re projecting a 31 percent increase in Queens alone. The reason why we say this from the rafters, so to speak, is because we want people to be ready. This change means changes in services. It means the needs of the population are going to change substantially.”
Salvo said that the DCP will closely monitor the increase in seniors by neighborhood to relay that information to agencies responsible for infrastructure, transit and other services that keep the city running.
“These areas are where the elevators and escalators are going to be important,” he said.
Currently, the DCP predicts that such Queens neighborhoods as Douglaston, Bayside, Kew Gardens and Forest Hills are expected to house most of the older population as time goes on.