igns of construction seem to be everywhere in Rye. School enrollment is up. Parking seems tough to find, but that’s status quo – or maybe a result of all this winter’s snow. Is Rye growing or is this just a case of renovations and moving around?
By Bob Zahm
Signs of construction seem to be everywhere in Rye. School enrollment is up. Parking seems tough to find, but that’s status quo – or maybe a result of all this winter’s snow. Is Rye growing or is this just a case of renovations and moving around? Census Bureau data provides a mixed answer.
From 2000 to 2012, Rye grew by 5.1%, or 758 people, to an estimated total of 15,713 residents. Digging a bit deeper, some age-specific trends reveal themselves.
Confirming the reported increase in school enrollments, there are now 916 more children ages 5 to 19 in Rye. That’s a rise of 27.5% from 2000 to 2012. Interestingly, a “supporting” parent population (ages 30-49) has fallen by 677 or 14 %. So, those home renovations and rebuilds seem to be supporting larger families, but necessarily additional families.
Moving on seems to be what many of our recent college graduates seem to want to do. The number of Rye’s college graduate age residents (20 – 29) remaining in Rye has decreased by 87 or 9.5%. The census data doesn’t give a picture as to where they’re all going. A recent report by Community Housing Innovations, an organization that supports and builds affordable housing, blamed Rye’s high cost of housing and lack of multifamily apartment dwellings for the youth flight. But, many of them could be relocating for new jobs, moving into New York City in search of a more vigorous social life, or checking out other places on the globe.
Rye retirees make up about a fifth of our neighbors and, the cost of living in Rye to the contrary, their numbers are growing. The 65 and older group has increased by 297 people or 14.8% to a total of 2,309. Interestingly, the number of people 80 and older has risen by 86.8% or 467, although it is not clear how many remain in their own homes. Rye seems to reflect the national trends in terms of growth in this age bracket.
Comparing Rye to Westchester County makes clear that, while we think of our town as being different, when it comes to population trends, Rye is relatively consistent with the rest of the County. The number of students and retirees is increasing across the County, although more slowly than in Rye. Similarly, the number of parent-age adults is decreasing across the County, but not as quickly as in Rye. Based on the apparently significant difference in student-age population growth, Rye does appear to be more attractive than the rest of the County – something our school board has been saying for years.
The college graduate age bracket provides the most visible difference between Westchester County and Rye. The County has grown in this group at a rate of 7%. Rye, however, has contracted, but at a rate of 9.5% or 87 people – 87 is immaterial in the context of the county numbers – and, at 0.6% of Rye’s current population, it is probably immaterial for Rye as well.
So Rye is growing and its age group mix is changing. By growing most strongly in both primary/secondary age students and retirees, Rye appears to be enhancing its attractiveness to families. The drop in college graduate-age residents may represent the flip side of this attractiveness as our educated children move away to find new opportunities, rich social scenes, affordable housing, or simply a change of pace.