Half of New York's Latinos Live in Long Island

Did you know that 1.5 million Latinos make New York's Long Island their home?

Surprised, right? I was--and I'm a bit of a demography buff.

Why is it such a surprise? I'll get into that and related issues in later posts. The purpose of this post is to take a look at the population numbers as they stand now, and to allow a peek at what's to come.

93.2% of NY Latinos Live Downstate

The 2006 American Community Survey put New York's Latino population at 3,139,590, or 16.3% of the state's population. That is, one of every six New Yorkers is Latino--and that's excluding most of those with a partial Latino heritage.

3,139,590 is a big number.

Actually, if NY Latinos were their own state, it would have more people than 21 U.S. states, including: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Another interesting facet of the New York Latino population is that it's heavily concentrated in the state's Downstate region. Fully 93.2% , or 2,924,923, Latino New Yorkers live in the 12 counties comprising downstate New York (i.e., lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island).

Downstate New York counties include: Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.


A mere 6.8% of the Latino population (213,492 persons) is distributed across the state's remaining 50 counties.

In terms of people per square mile, Downstate New York has a 739 Latinos per square mile vs just 4.25 Latinos per square mile in the rest of the state.

4,835 Latinos per NYC square mile

Of course, Latinos are not evenly distributed--whether in Upstate or Downstate. As people tend to do--they're concentrated in certain jurisdictions within both regions.

The Downstate concentration is in the City of New York. Actually, almost three of every four New York Latinos (72%) reside in New York City.

The resulting NYC Latino density is an astounding 4,835 persons per square mile.

Long Island is an island (and it contains 39% of all New Yorkers!)
First, a geography lesson --important since people tend to confuse the physical and political make-up of the island.

Long Island is an island. It's bound by the Long Island Sound to its North and the Atlantic Ocean to its South. It's connected to the mainland via three bridges to the Bronx and three ferry routes across the Sound to Connecticut. It's also connected to the isles of Manhattan, Roosevelt and Staten Island by a web of tunnels, bridges, commuter rail lines, subways and river ferries. The Long Island Expressway cuts a path across its length, a stretch of some 100 miles from Long Island City on its western tip to Riverhead, the island's easternmost city.

Long Island is urban and suburban (and it even has a touch of rural scape in Eastern Suffolk). That is, it contains two of New York City's most dynamic counties/boroughs: Queens and Kings (aka Brooklyn), as well as the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk. Queens and Kings are governed by the Mayor of New York City, while Nassau and Suffolk are ruled by 100s of governing entities, including 2 county governments, 2 cities, 13 towns, 95 incorporated villages, 127 school districts, 2 reservations, etc.

(Note: The way Long Island is governed has implications for the quality and cost of life for the poor as well as the rich. It's America's non-so-subtle--yet legal--mechanisms for racial and class segregation. More on this later.)

According to the '05 U.S. Census projections, 7.5 million people live on geographic Long Island--which is an incredible 39% of the state's total population!

Over a third of all New Yorkers live on what is essentially a long thin blade of land slicing into the Atlantic Ocean.

1.5 Million Latino Long Islanders (or 46% of the State Total)

According to the 2006 American Community Survey, 1,445.646 Latinos were projected to be living on Long Island.

Queens 597,773
Kings 496,304
Suffolk 191,552
Nassau 160,017

That is a 43% increase from the 1990 U.S. Census count of 1,008,769.

Queens 381,120
Kings 462,411
Suffolk 87,852
Nassau 77,386

2,000,000 Latino Long Islanders by 2020?

Long Island's Latino population will likely grow to over 2 million by 2020--that is, if recent population growth rates continue.

Using this compound annual rate calculator and 'o6 and 1990 data, suggests an annual Long Island Latino population growth rate of 2.43%. Taking that rate and plugging it into this population calculator results in a 2020 Latino population of 2,023,216.

Here's what it looks like by year:

2006 - 1,445,646
2007 - 1,480,775
2008 - 1,516,758
2009 - 1,553,615
2010 - 1,591,368
2011 - 1,630,038
2012 - 1,669,648
2013 - 1,710,220
2014 - 1,751,779
2015 - 1,794,347
2016 - 1,837,949
2017 - 1,882,612
2018 - 1,928,359
2019 - 1,975,218
2020 - 2,023,216

New York's Latino population is heavily concentrated Downstate region--and its greatest density being in New York City. While geographic Long Island hosts two NYC counties (Queens and Kings) as well as Nassau and Suffolk, it's Latino population of 1.5 million represents 46% of the state's total. Assuming a continued growth rate of 2.43% per year, Long Island's Latino population will grow to over 2 million by 2020.

Two million Latinos are a lot of people, representing significant purchasing power and a potent political bloq, themes Latino Long Island will address over time.

However, the broader point is that irrespective of the tenor of the times, Latinos are a major presence on Long Island now--and the group's impact will grow and deepen over time. There are amazingly talented Latinos contributing to the growth and success of Long Island now--and many young people who'll shine in due time. Latinos are a hardy people with a hope and belief in a better tomorrow.

We should know and celebrate who we are today--as we move confidently in shaping the Long Island of tomorrow.

Data Sources:

US Census: New York County Selection Map
New York State population
Queens County population
Kings County population
Suffolk County population
Nassau County population
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