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Population Envy – Mine is Denser than Yours

March 22nd, 2007 · 2 Comments · News

Statistics + Experts = News

That’s right, it really is that easy. Collect a bunch of numbers, let a bunch of people with “expertise” comment, and call it news.

One of the indicators frequently cited when analyzing the state of New York is population growth. Or loss, as the case may be. Up here in the Adirondacks, it is really more of a qualitative thing. We are more concerned about brain drain. Other parts of the state are experiencing population declines which seem to be a cause for alarm. Hmmm. I kind of like the idea of people moving around, sort of a free-market of migration. Is it a cause for alarm? Frankly, I have very little clue.

The recently renamed Knickerbocker Blog featured a round-up of articles focusing on various areas of New York State and population growth. OK, “HELLO! Adirondacks here!”. Sorry, sometimes those “downstaters” forget about us… Dork that I am, this type of stuff actually grabs my attention. As I read on, it turned out to be a county-by-county pissing contest:

STATEN GROWS ON US – “The Big Apple didn’t get much bigger since the last official census – but Staten Island is beginning to burst at the seams.”

Dutchess population up 1 rung – “If county population were a horse race, Dutchess would have just pulled ahead of Rockland by a nose.”

Census: Region shows growth – “Saratoga County picked up the most new residents; Columbia County lost population”

Jobs, population on upswing – “You lose state aid. You lose federal aid,” he said. “You lose your congressional representation, then you lose your voice.”

Size of the City Is Challenged by the Census – “Given the comings and goings of people in New York, it’s difficult to quantify accurately with the Census Bureau’s methodology,”

Getting a fix on county population drain – “Image is just very important to economic development, recruitment and so forth,”

Well, you get the drift. I predict our local papers will be getting on the Census Estimate Bandwagon by tomorrow with some equally thrilling reportage. Here is the Adirondack North Country summary, just to save them some time:

Population Change
Clinton .08%
Essex 2.7%
Franklin 1.1%
Hamilton 1.1%
Warren 7.8%
St Lawrence 0.2%
Jefferson -11.1%
Lewis 6.7%

Big deal right? One minor aspect of counting heads is often overlooked – prisoners. Did you know that one of our biggest industries in the North Country is “Corrections”? This is a big deal if you are counting prisoners. Besides the “mine is growing bigger than yours” contest amongst the counties, there is also the allocation of resources and power to consider. Who knew that behind that big wall were a bunch of “constituents”?

The prisoner miscount has had staggering impact on New York, skewing its legislative representation and misrepresenting its demographic makeup. New York City residents represent 66% of the prison population, and the vast majority of them (91%) are housed in upstate prisons.

If prisoners were excluded from population counts, seven districts in the New York State Senate would be too small to count as districts.

…in Franklin County, prisoners constitute almost 11% of the census’ count.

(Prisoners of the Census)

Did you know the 45th Senate District “counts” almost 13 thousand prisoners among its constituents? These guys (and the much fewer gals) don’t get to vote here or by absentee. I don’t really mind that. Technically, they are residents – of their cells. Here’s where it gets interesting. Some places want their prisoners “back”.

…according to the state Department of Correctional Services, 60 percent, or 43,740, of the state’s prisoners are from New York City. Because of the dramatic upstate-downstate divide between the political parties, this means prisoners’ own – overwhelmingly Democratic – neighborhoods in NYC lose demographic heft while overwhelmingly Republican prison towns gain numbers. That’s what matters here rather than votes cast, as the vast majority of prisoners in New York state are barred from voting. (

Democrat vs. Republican over prisoners. That’s funny. A proposed half-measure would cease counting them altogether. Brilliant solution.

Finally, my research into these stunning Census revelations found another minor glitch in the Interweb Information System. Counting those prisoners makes for some fun reading.

Dannemora, New York, in Clinton county, is 132 miles N of Schenectady, New York and 211 miles NW of Boston, Massachusetts. About 4,129 people people live in Dannemora.

The People and Families of Dannemora

In Dannemora, about 12% of adults are married.

Approximately 51% of Dannemora is non-white. In the village you’ll find a lively diversity of people.

Dannemora is a good place to find men, since there are so many of them in the village.

Commuters in Dannemora enjoy easier drives to work than most people.


Hahahahahaha! Lively! It’s bachelor city! They even got two “Trophies” for Racial Diversity. According to Sterling’s Best Places, Dannemora enjoys a population density of 3570.5 per square mile. (Average for the world is 112/sq mi) Clearly there is some unbeatable record here. We know size isn’t everything, and thanks to all those Downstate prisoners, now we know why.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • City Mouse

    Very, very interesting post. And the jewel of course, is the Dannemora bit. Heh!

    BTW – Warren County is the biggest increase, huh? Who knew. I thought Essex might be up there, but Warren surprised me. Although it is more suburban, I guess.

  • TourPro

    Seems like there was some recent news and the latest estimates only show Clinton with population growth. I can’t wait for the next real Census.

    To help ensure the accuracy of the census and improve efficiency, the Census Bureau has moved away from using traditional pencil and paper to update its address list and maps. Now, census workers will update the information electronically, using hand-held computers and coordinates from the Global Positioning System (GPS).

    Residents can easily identify census workers by their official badges, hand-held computers and census bags.

    Sounds like a bunch of fun! 

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