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Making Census Of It: Bronx Population Grows, Yet Poverty Remains

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NY1's "Making Census Of It" series continues this week with a spotlight on the Bronx, the borough that experienced the largest growth in the city in the 2010 U.S. Census. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

The Bronx today is a tale of renewal and resurgence, as the borough picked up more than 52,000 people in the last 10 years, more than any other borough.

The population has almost 1.4 million people, and 27 percent are under 18. At this rate, city officials say, the borough is on track to reach its historical high.

"In 1970, the Bronx had 1.47 million people, but in the '70s and '80s the borough experienced incredible decline. And the 2010 census shows us coming back," says Carol J. Samol, the director of the Bronx Borough Office of the Department of City Planning. "We're on track to achieve our peak population again by 2030."

Yet pressing concerns linger. The American Community Survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, finds a little more than half of the borough's population lives in or near poverty.

William Bosworth, a retired professor and the founder-director of the Bronx Data Center at Lehman College, says South Bronx especially suffers from poverty.

"Whatever you want to say about the Bronx coming back and so forth, the 16th Congressional District is still the poorest congressional district by far of any in the entire United States. It's wholly within the Bronx and it covers almost all of South Bronx," says Bosworth.

As for the racial breakdown, Hispanics now make up more than 53 percent of the borough's population.

In 1960, the white population was almost 1.1 million, but that number has continually decreased over the years. Today it stands at slightly over 150,000.

The native-born black population is declining as well. A larger portion now comes from west Africa, Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean .

The total black population however was about the same as it was in 2000 -- around 415,000 residents.

"Blacks are leaving the poorer parts of the Bronx in rather large numbers. Many of them are moving to the north Bronx to the better part of the Bronx," says Bosworth. "You have perhaps the beginnings of a larger black middle class in the Bronx."

Bosworth says that could be very important for the economic development of the Bronx.

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