district profile
Lower-Hudson Valley (Portion of New York-Wayne-White Plains Metro Division)

Putnam, Rockland and Westchester 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 are more commonly referred to as the Lower Hudson Valley. This area is home to 1.36 million people, based on the 2010 Census. Westchester County alone has a population of roughly 950,000 and accounts for roughly 70 percent of this region’s population. Rockland has 312,000 residents, while Putnam has just 100,000. Overall, this region’s population grew by just over 4 percent over the past decade—double the rate for New York State overall, but less than half the nationwide growth rate. Population growth during the last decade, ranged from 2.8 percent in Westchester to 8.7 percent in Rockland; Putnam’s population grew by just over 4 percent. All the major cities in this region are in Westchester County. The largest, by far, is Yonkers with a population of just under 200,000; New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and White Plains are each home to between 50,000 and 80,000 residents.

All three counties are relatively affluent and educational attainment is high. Based on 2009 data, median household income was approximately $88,000 in Putnam County, $83,000 in Rockland and $79,000 in Westchester—all well above the nationwide and statewide medians. In terms of educational attainment, 45 percent of Westchester County adults hold college degrees—one of the largest proportions of any county in the state or the nation. Rockland and Putnam are not far behind on this measure, with college grads accounting for roughly 40 percent of adults.

This area’s industry composition tends to be weighted toward the health and education and information sectors, largely in Westchester County. Moreover, a number of major corporations are headquartered in Westchester County; as a result the management of companies is another one of the county’s key industry sectors. While manufacturing in general represents a relatively small share of this region’s economy, chemical manufacturing (mainly pharmaceuticals) is a very important component of Rockland County’s economy. Despite its sizable industry base, a significant proportion of residents commute to jobs in New York City, as well as northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut.

During the economic downturn, this area saw fairly steep job losses: employment fell by nearly 6 percent from early 2008 to the end of 2009—only slightly less steeply than nationally. Private-sector employment rebounded modestly in 2010 but this was offset by steep job losses in (mostly local) government. As of the end of 2010, employment remained about 5½ percent below its late-2007 peak.

Home prices tend to be relatively high in these areas: base on data from 2007-09, the median home price was more than $560,000 in Westchester County, just above $480,000 in Rockland County and nearly $430,000 in Putnam; these are all substantially more than double the nationwide median of $185,000. Between 2000 and 2006, home prices doubled in all three counties; then, from 2006 to 2010, prices fell by roughly 20 percent in all three counties, before leveling off in the latter part of the year.1

Recent Trends
Employment has increased briskly thus far in 2012 and is now just 1 percent below its January 2008 peak; private-sector employment is very close to an all-time high. The education and health sector has seen brisk job growth continuously, and by mid-2012, employment in both the retail and professional and business services sectors reached pre-recession levels. The fall in home prices in all three counties (Putnam, Rockland and Westchester) seems to have leveled off, but prices show little sign of turning up thus far.

1Trends in home prices referral to here are all based on report sales indexes from Core Logic.

  Lower Hudson Valley: selected characteristics
    Population in 2010 % of 2010 Population that is1  
  Total Population1 % Change from 20001 per Sq. Mile2 Black Hispanic Asian  
  Lower Hudson Valley 1.360,510   4.2   1623   13.0   19.7   5.4 
    Putnam 99,710   4.1   431   2.4   11.7   1.9 
    Rockland 311,687   8.7   1789   11.9   15.7   6.2 
    Westchester 949,113   2.8   2193   14.6   21.8   5.4 
  New York State 19,378,102   2.1   410   15.9   17.6   7.3 
  USA 308,745,538   9.7   87   12.6   16.3   4.8 

  Lower Hudson Valley: selected characteristics
    Median % of Homes % of Adults with5  
  Household Income3 Home Value4 Owner Occupied4 College Degrees HS Degrees  
  Lower Hudson Valley $80,217   $534,365   66.1   43.4   88.2 
    Putnam $87,774   $427,400   83.8   38.2   93.7 
    Rockland $82,574   $482,300   72.6   40.9   88.7 
    Westchester $78,649   $562,700   62.5   44.7   87.4 
  New York State $54,659   $310,000   55.4   31.8   84.2 
  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)

September 2012