New Jersey’s Asian population surges past 1 million

By: - August 13, 2021 7:00 am

The Asian American population of New Jersey grew by a staggering 44% since 2010. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

New Jersey’s Asian population grew faster than any other large ethnic or racial group, according to figures released by the Census Bureau Thursday.

About 1.05 million New Jersey residents identified as Asian, either whole or in part, in the most recent decennial count. That’s a staggering 44% increase from the 725,726 who identified as Asian in the 2010 census.

Middlesex County still has the largest Asian population in the state — with 237,945 Asian residents — though other counties saw faster growth.

In Mercer County, the Asian population jumped by 61%, rising from 32,752 to 52,733. Hudson County’s population grew by 57%, from 84,924 in 2010 to 133,509 last year. Somerset County also saw a 58% rise, adding 26,388 new Asian residents over the last 10 years

The group’s population rose by about 31% in Bergen, which at 171,447 hosts the state’s second largest Asian American community.

“I love being a part of this fast-growing and thriving AAPI community in New Jersey,” said Rep. Andy Kim (D-03), who was elected as the state’s first Asian American member of Congress in 2018. “This growth in population shows that New Jersey is embracing diversity and remaining a wonderful place to raise families.”

The comparison to the previous census is an imperfect one because of a change in how the bureau reports individuals who identified as more than one race.

In previous counts, race was reported only in its own multi-race category. The 2020 census counted mixed-race individuals as belonging to each of their races, and those counts are used exclusively in this article except where otherwise noted because they provide a clearer picture of the state’s demographics than single-race figures also released this year.

Lack of accurate representation

New Jersey has just three state legislators of Asian American descent: State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-Middlesex).

Asians now account for a little more than 11% of the state’s population. They’d need seven more seats in the Assembly and two or three more in the Senate for their representation to align with the state’s demographics.

It’s likely their representation will rise in the next legislative session. Two Asian women, former Englewood Cliffs Councilwoman Ellen Park and former Tenafly Councilwoman Shama Haider, have Democratic nominations for two open Assembly seats in the 37th district. Their expected win in the safely Democratic district would make them the first Asian American women to hold legislative office in New Jersey.

Two other Assembly candidates, former Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer, a Democrat, and Lumberton Township Administrator Brandon Umba, a Republican, are running for Assembly in the 16th and 8th districts, respectively. Both districts are competitive.

New Jersey Hispanic and Latino communities

New Jersey’s Hispanic and Latino population also grew substantially over the last 10 years. After climbing by nearly 29%, there are just over 2 million New Jersey residents of Hispanic or Latino origin, up from roughly 1.56 million in 2010.

Census figures for persons of Hispanic or Latino origin are not subject to the changes the bureau made to how it reports race.

At 293,019, Hudson County continues to have the state’s largest Hispanic and Latino communities, but the ethnic group grew slower in the county than in any other where they account for more than 20% of the population.

Despite Hudson being the state’s fastest-growing county — its total population rose by 14.3% — its growth in those communities was just 9.4%. Hispanic and Latino population grew fastest in Mercer, where it rose by 52% to 84,117, and Bergen County, which saw 59,402 new Hispanic or Latino residents added over the past 10 years, an increase of just under 41%.

Hispanic or Latino populations in Essex, Union and Middlesex County grew by 32%, 33% and 30%, respectively. Collectively, they added 144,763 new residents to those communities.

In Passaic County, 224,030 residents were of Hispanic or Latino Origin, about 43% of the county’s population of 524,118. There are more Hispanic and Latino residents per capita in Passaic than in any other county, though Hudson’s 40% makes it a close second.

Black population

New Jersey’s Black population grew slower than other racial and ethnic groups, rising by just 208,946 — about 17% — in an increase driven almost entirely by multi-racial residents captured differently in previous censuses.

The number of residents who reported they are Black alone rose by just 14,944.

Essex County still hosts the state’s largest Black population by far. A little more than 42% of the county’s residents, 364,750, are Black. That’s just over a quarter of the entire state’s Black population.

Few counties saw large increases in their number of Black residents, and some of the counties that saw large growth had small populations to begin with.

Gloucester County’s Black population grew by 35.6%, amounting to 10,316 new Black residents. Somerset County saw a 28% increase, but that accounted for only 8,164 individuals. Middlesex County’s 29% increase added 22,826 Black residents, about half of the 44,271 added in Essex.

Residents who are solely white are now minorities in Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Middlesex, Mercer and Cumberland Counties. That was true only in Hudson County in 2010.

Solely white residents who are not Hispanic or Latino may soon become a minority in New Jersey. They accounted for just 51.9% of the state’s nearly 9.3 million residents. The number of residents who identified as white, including mixed-race individuals, declined in the 2020 count, falling by about 2% to just under 5.9 million.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.