Census says we’re shrinking but not everywhere

GHENT—Over the past decade Columbia County’s total population has decreased, but the population of a few towns has increased, as has the number of people who are at least 18 years old or who identify themselves as Asian, of more than one race, or Hispanic, according to the 2020 Census.

The 2020 Census put the total population of Columbia County at 61,570. This is 1,526 (2.4%) less than the 2010 population of 63,096. The 2020 population is the county’s lowest since 1980. The 2020 count ended a seven-decade run of population increases in the county from census to census.

The county’s highest census population occurred in 2010, and its lowest since earlier than 1850 occurred in 1920. The following chart summarizes the County population ranges since 1850:

Period Population (range)

1850-1910…… 40,000 – 49,000

1920………… 38,900

1930-1960…… 40,000 – 49,000

1970-1980…… 50,000-59,000

1990-2020……. 60,000+

Nevertheless, the population increased from 2010 to 2020 in the southwest and northeast corners of the county. In the southwest, in Claverack, Clermont, Germantown, Greenport and Livingston combined, the population grew 2.3% from 17,751 in 2010 to 18,153 in 2020. Clermont’s and Greenport’s populations have increased with every census after 1920. In Clermont in 2020, the population exceeded 2,000 for the first time ever.

In the county’s northeast, New Lebanon’s population grew 9.1%, from 2,305 in 2010 to 2,514 in 2020.

On the other hand, the steepest population losses occurred in the Village of Chatham and the City of Hudson. The population in the Village of Chatham fell 13.6%, from 1,770 in 2010 to 1,529 in 2020. This is the village’s lowest population after 1870, the year of its first census.

Chatham village population exceeded 2,000 from 1900 through 1980. It reached its peak of 2,710 in 1920; ironically that was the year the total county population dipped. Its population has fallen in every census after 1960.

Hudson’s population fell 12.2%, from 6,713 in 2010 to 5,894 in 2020. This is the city’s lowest population since 1840 and the first time it has been lower than 6,000 after that year. Hudson reached its population peak of 12,337 in 1930. The city’s population has fallen in every census after 1950.

The county population under 18 has been falling, but the population of people 18 or older has been increasing.

The younger group—people under 18—fell from over 15,000 in the year 2000 down to 12,800 in the 2010 census and was 10,7000 in the recently released 2020 census data. That decrease from 2000 to 2020 was 29%.

Over that same period the county’s population of people over 18 increased from 47.900 in the year 2000 to 50,300 in 2010 and to 50,800 thousand in 2020. The increase from the 2000 to the 2020 census was 6%.

Other groups whose population within the county increased even when the total county population decreased include those who identify themselves as belonging to two or more races, as Asian or as Hispanic/Latino (any race). The number claiming two or more races more than tripled, from 1,279 in 2010 to 4,256 in 2020. The proportion of the county’s total population who identify as two or more races increased from 2.0% in 2010 to 6.9% in 2020.

The proportion of the county’s population identifying their race as “Asian alone” increased from less than 1% in 2000 to 1.6% in 2010 to 2.3% in 2020. A breakdown of the county’s Asians by national origin was not available for this report.

The proportion of the county not identifying their race as white alone increased from 9.4% in 2010 to 16.3% in 2020. The proportion of African-American people has remained relatively stable between 4% and 4.5% since the last census.

The number of people identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino more than doubled over the last two decades, growing from 1,598 in the year 2000 to 3,542 in 2020. Their proportion of the population rose from 2.5% in 2000 to 5.8% in 2020.



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