New Jersey’s population continues to inch toward 9 million, driven in part by the more than 50,000 immigrants who settle in the state each year.
The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau put the state’s population at almost 8.96 million people last year. That’s about 20,000 higher than in 2014 and 166,000 more than the number who lived in the state in April 2010, when the previous official census was taken. Births are outpacing deaths by more than 30,000 a year, but between 40,000 and 60,000 people move out of state annually, so the influx of the foreign-born has been an important factor in New Jersey’s population increases.
These are the counties that took in the most immigrants in the first half of this decade and the number of the foreign-born who settled there between April 2010 and July 2015:
1. Hudson County — 52,065
Long a haven for foreigners, dating back to the days when people came by ship into Ellis Island, Hudson County continues to be the New Jersey home of the most new arrivals in America. Census officials estimate that last year alone, nearly 11,000 immigrants made Hudson County their home, helping boost its population to nearly 675,000 and making it the fastest-growing county in the state.
2. Middlesex County — 41,929
This urban Central Jersey county has a large Asian population — nearly a quarter of the county’s more than 840,000 residents are Asian. The largest group are Asian Indians. Middlesex’s Asian Indian population is reportedly the third-largest in the nation, behind Santa Clara, CA, and Queens, NY.
3. Bergen County — 31,169
New Jersey’s most populous county also took in the third-largest number of immigrants since 2010. With nearly 940,000 residents, Bergen has a diverse population and a number of racial and ethnic enclaves — for instance, Koreatown in Palisades Park, where nearly two-thirds of the population are immigrants.
4. Essex County — 29,493
With nearly 800,000 residents, Essex is among the state’s most urbanized. In most of its municipalities about three in 10 residents are foreign-born and in Belleville, more than a third are immigrants.
5. Union County — 20,754
Union completes the link from Bergen to Middlesex and also has a sizeable immigrant population. Nearly half the population of Elizabeth, the county seat, was born in another country.
6. Passaic County — 19,716
This county’s cities feature large immigrant populations — a third in Paterson — and municipalities where foreign-born population are growing significantly: Little Falls and Pompton Lakes have seen their immigrant populations increase by more than 75 percent since 2000.
7. Mercer County — 13,577
Home of the state capital, Mercer’s population of 371,000 is more than a quarter Asian or Latino. Princeton has the most immigrants — about a quarter of the population.
8. Morris County — 11,733
One of the state’s wealthiest counties, Morris’s foreign-born population has been rising and includes Hispanic enclaves in Morristown, Victory Gardens, and Dover, where nearly half the people are immigrants.
9. Somerset County — 9,261
Another wealthy county, immigrants have been moving throughout the county in recent years, with most municipalities seeing their foreign-born populations rising by at least 40 percent since 2000.
10. Atlantic County — 8,527
The southernmost county on the list, Atlantic is also the smallest, with a population of just under 275,000. Atlantic City has the most immigrants, but the ranks of the foreign-born are growing fast in several nearby municipalities.