According to estimates from the United States Census Bureau (USCB), Brooklyn is set to surpass Chicago as the nation’s third largest city by 2020, and southwest Brooklyn may or may not be to blame.
On paper, the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park seem to have little to do with Brooklyn’s total population growth of around 5.3 percent between April, 2010 (2,504,710) and July, 2015 (2,636,725). In Sunset Park’s 11220 zip code (between 43rd Street and Bay Ridge Avenue), for example, the USCB reported a population decrease of about 1.3 percent between 2013 and 2014, from 103,089 to 101,715.
However, New York City is no stranger to census under-reporting. Inaccuracies between reported population increases and perceived population in the 2010 Census led local leaders and even then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to question if the reported numbers were correct. Today, the same question is on the minds of several community board district managers.
“This community is typically under-reported,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, which includes Sunset Park. “We have folks from all over the world who may not be in the country legally, although in larger studies they are often counted. Our population in Community Board 7 has grown by 50 percent over 20 years, from 100,000 to 150,000, with two thirds of our population being in Sunset Park. I would find such a large exodus to be strange.”
In Bay Ridge’s 11209 zip code, the USCB also reported a small population decrease between 2013 and 2014, from 72,623 to 72,582.
However, Dyker Height’s 11228 zip code did see a population increase, from 43,929 to 46,059 (4.8 percent), as did Bensonhurst’s 11214 zip code, from 83,156 to 88,297 (6.2 percent).
“The numbers in Community Board 10 were very under-counted. South Brooklyn as a whole was very under-counted in the 2010 census,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, which serves Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge. “The Department of Health listed the population in Community Board 10 at over 140,000, while the American Community Survey has numbers of 120,000, so I do believe we have been very much under-counted. I think it is evidenced by overcrowding in our public schools. I think a lot of the under-counting is a result of illegal conversions and illegal immigrants in the northern section of Dyker Heights.”
Interestingly enough, Bensonhurst’s 11204 zip code was estimated to have a total population of 80,349 in 2014, down from 80,963 in 2013, with the largest demographic (8.1 percent) being children under the age of five.