district profile
Northeastern New Jersey (NJ Portion of New York-Wayne-White Plains Metro Division)

Bergen, Hudson and Passaic Counties

These three counties form a part of the New York-White Plains-Wayne metropolitan division, which, in turn, forms the core of the New York metropolitan area. They comprise the northeastern corner of New Jersey. This highly urbanized area has a population of just over 2 million, based on the 2010 Census, and a relatively high population density of nearly 4,400 residents per square mile—four times the average for New Jersey overall. Bergen, with 905,000 residents, is the most populous of the three counties. Hudson County, which is much smaller in area, has just under 635,000 residents, many of whom live along the “Gold Coast”—a catchphrase for the Hudson River coastline (also including part of Bergen County), immediately across from Manhattan. Passaic County has just over a half million residents. Bergen and Passaic counties registered modest population growth of just over 2 percent during the past decade, while Hudson County’s population expanded by slightly over 4 percent.

While Wayne is referred to as the hub of this region, the largest cities are Jersey City (in Hudson County) and Paterson (in Passaic County). However, there are also many smaller urban centers in these three counties, including Hackensack and Fort Lee (in Bergen County), Bayonne, Hoboken and Union City (in Hudson County), and Clifton and Passaic (in Passaic County).

Income and educational attainment are mixed across the three counties. Median household income is a well above average $82,000 in Bergen County, based on 2009 data. In contrast, median income was $55,000 in both Hudson and Passaic counties—slightly higher than for the nation as a whole, but well below the New Jersey median. Similarly, educational attainment is well above average in Bergen County, where 44 percent of adults hold college degrees, but lower in Hudson County (32 percent) and substantially lower in Passaic (24 percent). Demographically, more than two in five Hudson County residents are of Hispanic origin, and Hispanics also account for nearly as large a share of Passaic County’s population. Both Hudson and Bergen counties have a sizable population of Asian-Americans. Passaic County also has a sizable Arab-American community.

This area’s industry composition also varies somewhat. Hudson County’s most concentrated industry is financial activities, reflecting its proximity to New York City’s financial district. In particular, the securities industry alone accounts for more than 11 percent of employment—fifteen times the nationwide average and an even higher proportion than in Manhattan. Other key sectors in Hudson County include warehousing and storage, water transportation, and data processing. Bergen and Passaic Counties both have a large share of employment in company management, partly reflecting the prevalence of corporate offices and headquarters. While manufacturing is generally under-represented in this part of New Jersey, certain industries are somewhat prominent: textiles, furniture and electronic products in Passaic; apparel in Hudson; and chemicals & pharmaceuticals in Bergen and Passaic.

After registering little or no net job gains during the last expansion, this part of New Jersey sustained a nearly 10 percent drop in employment between early 2008 and mid-2009—considerably steeper than for either New Jersey or the nation as a whole. Employment rebounded only modestly in 2010. Home values tend to be high, especially in Bergen County, where the median value is close to $500,000. During the housing boom (2000-06), home prices more than doubled in Bergen and Passaic counties and increased more than 2½ times in Hudson County. Over the subsequent four years, however, prices fell by roughly 35 percent in Hudson and Passaic counties and by more than 20 percent in Bergen County, as of the end of 20101.

Recent Trends

After rebounding moderately in 2010 and 2011, overall employment in the region leveled off in the first half of 2012. Employment in Hudson County’s key financial sector has yet to show any signs of an upturn. Government employment continued to decline up through late 2011 but has leveled off in 2012. Home prices in Bergen and Passaic counties continued to decline in 2012. Home prices in Hudson county have shown some sign of improvement in late 2011 and early 2012, but remain much closer to the trough than to the peak.

1Trends in home prices referred to here are all based on repeat-sales indexes from CoreLogic.

  Northeastern New Jersey: selected characteristics
    Population in 2010 % of 2010 Population that is1  
  Total Population1 % Change from 20001 per Sq. Mile2 Black Hispanic Asian  
  Northeastern NJ 2,040,608   2.9   4378  9.8  29.3  11.8 
    Bergen 905,116   2.4   3865  5.8  16.1  14.5 
    Hudson 634,266   4.2   13585  13.2  42.2  13.4 
    Passaic 501,226   2.2   2705  12.8  37.0  5.0 
  New Jersey 8,791,894   4.5   1,185  13.7  17.7  7.3 
  USA 308,745,538   9.7   87  12.6  16.3  4.8 

  Northeastern New Jersey: selected characteristics
    Median % of Homes % of Adults with5  
  Household Income3 Home Value4 Owner Occupied4 College Degrees HS Degrees  
  Northeastern NJ $67,156   $433,495   54.4   35.6   84.9 
    Bergen $82,435   $486,200   67.5   44.3   90.7 
    Hudson $54,974   $397,000   34.0   32.3   79.3 
    Passaic $54,980   $384,500   56.5   23.6   81.0 
  New Jersey $68,342   $361,100   66.7   34.1   86.8 
  USA $50,221   $191,900   66.4   27.5   84.6 
1 Source: US Bureau of the Census, decennial Census of Population.
2 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census of Population; land area data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s geographic database (TIGER® database) for Census 2000.
3 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2009 (1-year estimates)

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2007-09 (3-year estimates)


Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2006-08 (3-year estimates)

August 2012