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Newark Is Still New Jersey’s Largest City – Here’s Why It Matters

Patch logo Patch 8/13/2021 Eric Kiefer
a traffic light on a city street: It’s official, the U.S. Census says: Newark has edged out Jersey City as the most populated municipality in the state. © Photo: Getty Images/Denis Tangney Jr. It’s official, the U.S. Census says: Newark has edged out Jersey City as the most populated municipality in the state.

NEWARK, NJ — It’s official, the U.S. Census says: Newark has edged out Jersey City as the most populated in the state.

Census officials released long-awaited municipal data from the 2020 tally on Thursday, revealing that – once again – Newark is the largest city in New Jersey.

There are 311,549 people living in Newark. Jersey City has 292,449 residents, according to the census.

The U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States. It's mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years.

Many people had wondered which city would emerge with the title of “New Jersey’s largest” this year. The race inspired a tongue-in-cheek rivalry between Newark and Jersey City, with each seeking to secure bragging rights.

But more than just pride is on the line when it comes to an accurate census total, especially in Newark, where advocates say residents have long been undercounted.

For example, the census determines how Congressional districts are drawn and how federal funds are appropriated. These funds touch nearly every aspect of life in Newark, including education, housing, healthcare and all other federal aid that flows into the city.

In the months leading up to the census deadline, officials tried creative ways to reach Newark residents, handing out $50 gift cards to local families, organizing events at City Hall, teaming up with the Newark Public Library to hold pop-up census sites and holding a “Newark Census Selfie Contest.”

That effort has paid off, Mayor Ras Baraka said Thursday.

“We are pleased to remain New Jersey’s largest city and top the 300,000 population mark,” Baraka said, congratulating residents for making sure they were counted despite the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I also sincerely appreciate Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Quiles for leading our efforts, as the U.S. Census in Newark was a partnership between federal, state, and county agencies, many nonprofits and our municipal team, who went into our neighborhoods and worked with all of our residents to get the most accurate count possible,” the mayor said.

Baraka added:

“However, the most important results of the 2020 Census are not if our city is the largest in New Jersey, but that our increasing number of residents – regardless of whether or not they were counted – receive every resource we need to take care of our diverse community and deliver vital services, particularly as we continue to be impacted by COVID-19.”

Some say the latest census data also may hint at the return of population growth to the state’s walkable, mixed-use centers — its cities, towns, and older suburbs with traditional downtowns.

According to New Jersey Future, Newark grew more than twice as fast as the rest of the state this decade, growing by 12.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, compared to 5.7 percent for the state as a whole. It’s the first time in many decades that Newark has outpaced the statewide growth rate, the group said.

Send local news tips and correction requests to eric.kiefer@patch.com

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