Were it not for the Garden State Parkway and Routes 4 and 17 running through it, Paramus might be a typical New Jersey suburb, with a population of about 26,000. But the presence of three large malls, as well as office buildings, essentially doubles the borough’s daytime population to more than 52,000.
When growth in New Jersey’s suburbs started booming in the 1970s, there was a lot of talk about the creation of bedroom communities and the highway traffic and other issues created by suburban sprawl. Municipalities like Paramus with a large influx of workers have their own set of problems, including local traffic and the need to provide emergency and other services to those who visit during the day.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released daytime population estimates for the first time since 2000 to assist with local planning efforts involving transportation, land use, emergencies, and other issues.
“It’s kind of a more general and less extreme version of what shore towns have to deal with, but during daytime hours rather than every summer,” said Tim Evans, director of research for New Jersey Future. “They have to staff up and provide services.”
Available for most, though not all, communities with larger residential or daytime populations, the data are estimates for the years 2005 through 2010.
According to the census data, a majority of New Jersey communities are bedroom communities, losing more workers during the day to other locations than come in to staff jobs within their borders. In 27 municipalities throughout the state, a third of the population or more clears out during the day to work somewhere else. The daytime population in Hopatcong, in Sussex County, drops by almost half to about 8,200 with the borough having an estimated 1,306 jobs.
But Magnolia, in Camden County, and Eastampton in Burlington, have the smallest percentage of 24-hour residents working in town — less than 5 percent. On the other hand, Cape May City at the southern tip of the state has more than three quarters of its residents working within its borders, the highest of any place in the state. It is also one of the municipalities with a larger daytime population than residential population: The Census Bureau estimates the number of people in Cape May swells by 85 percent, an increase of more than 3,100.
The data shows that the number of people more than doubles during the day in 15 communities, mostly in north and central Jersey. The biggest increase is estimated in Teterboro, a square-mile borough with fewer than 100 residents but an airport and a number of industrial and office buildings that bring in an estimated 6,000 commuters during the day.
New Jersey’s three largest cities, Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson, have both the most residents and the largest daytime populations in the state, although Paterson exports more workers to other places than it brings in, according to the data.
Evans said the data can help officials at all levels of government plan better.
“From New Jersey Future’s standpoint, we’d like to see a lot of those places with large daytime populations be accessible by more than just cars,” he said. “We’d like to see jobs steered back into places that are already near transit.”