Some of the statements Gov. Chris Christie has been making at his recent “town hall” meetings might lead one to believe people are fleeing the state in droves.
In fact, New Jersey’s population is growing.
It’s not growing fast, not nearly as fast as other parts of the country: The fastest-growing county in the United States was Williams in North Dakota, with a one-year 8.7 percent population spike due in large part to the oil boom there. And it’s not growing uniformly: The estimated population declined between 2013 and 2014 in seven counties. But overall, there were 26,673 more people living in the state last year than the year before, an increase of 0.3 percent, according to data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Here are the 10 fastest-growing New Jersey counties:
1. Hudson County
Up 0.8 percent, the home of New Jersey’s Gold Coast likely can attribute at least part of its 5,209-person increase to the popularity and growth of Jersey City, the state’s second largest. It also had something of a baby boom, with 632 more births in 2014 than the previous year, the largest increase in the state. Hudson’s population rise since the 2010 census was also the largest — an increase of 5.5 percent, or nearly 34,849. Its total population of nearly 670,000 makes it the fourth most-populous in the state.
2 (tie). Bergen County
Up 0.7 percent, which puts Bergen just behind Hudson in rate of growth. But in terms of the overall number of additional residents, Bergen grew the most — 6,138 over one year. Immigrants are responsible for most of this increase, with the number of foreigners moving in far outpacing the net number moving out of the county. Its net migration of 4,119 people was the largest in the state. The northeastern-most county remains the state’s most populous, with an estimated 933,572 residents last year.
2 (tie). Middlesex County
Up 0.7 percent and tied with Bergen for second-fastest growing county, Middlesex also added more residents than Hudson, but not as many as Bergen. Census officials estimate an additional 5,482 people were living in Middlesex in 2014. This central county was also New Jersey’s second-most populous, with about 836,000 residents.
4. Union County
Up 0.6 percent, this urban county in the north added 3,216 residents between 2013 and 2014 and 16,440 since 2010. Immigrants moving into the county were primarily responsible for the increase, with nearly 4,000 foreigners settling in Union, outnumbering those who moved out. Union is the seventh-largest county in the state, with about 553,000 people.
5 (tie). Ocean County
Up 0.5 percent, the first South Jersey county on the list is desirable because of its long stretch of beaches. Portions of Ocean are still developing, and an estimated 2,889 more people called the county home last year. It is one of only two New Jersey counties that had more people move in from within the United States than move out. The number of immigrants moving in was a modest 586. Ocean’s population was around 586,000 last year.
5 (tie). Essex County
Up 0.5 percent, the state’s third most populous county, with about 796,000 residents, added an estimated 3,632 people in 2014. While new city population estimates are not yet available, New Jersey’s largest city — Newark — has seen annual population growth every year between 2010 and 2013. Most of the growth in Essex was due to births, as a steady flow of nearly 6,000 immigrants was surpassed by almost 6,900 people moving out of the county.
7 (tie). Somerset County
Up 0.4 percent, the population rose by 1,271 in 2014 to bring this central Jersey county’s total growth to almost 333,000. Using the population increase since 2010 as a measure, Somerset would have come in fifth in the state, since its 2.8 percent rise over that four-year period was higher than Ocean and Essex county’s increases. Births exceeded deaths by about 1,000.
7 (tie). Passaic County
Up 0.4 percent, this northern county added an estimated 1,858 people last year, bringing its total to almost 509,000. The number of births outpaced deaths and more people moved out of the county than moved in. International immigration remained fairly steady around 3,500.
9. Gloucester County
Up 0.3 percent, the second South Jersey county and first bordering the Delaware River to make the list added 1,011 people in 2014. It had the smallest natural increase — births minus deaths — of the top 10 counties and the smallest number of immigrants moving in. It was also the only other county in New Jersey where more people moved in than moved out. Its population stood at about 291,000 last year.
10. Cumberland County, up .2 percent.
This rural county in the southwest had the smallest numerical population increase — 236 — and that was even smaller than Mercer County, whose growth percentage was lower than Cumberland’s and so did not make the list. Cumberland is also the smallest county on the list, with a population of around 157,000. Its one-year population increase was almost as large as the number of people added in the three previous years, with its total growth from 2010 to 2014 numbering just 491 or .3 percent.