2020 census data show continued growth, greater racial diversity in Ridgefield

A jogger passes a 2020 Census display on a fence outside the playground at Scalzi Park on Sept. 15, 2020 in Stamford, Conn. The Census report takes place every ten years, counting those living in the United States and in its terrtories: Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands, Guam, an the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A jogger passes a 2020 Census display on a fence outside the playground at Scalzi Park on Sept. 15, 2020 in Stamford, Conn. The Census report takes place every ten years, counting those living in the United States and in its terrtories: Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands, Guam, an the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Matthew Brown / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

RIDGEFIELD — The town has seen steady growth in its population over the past two decades, and numbers from the most recent census reveal that the diversity of its citizenry has increased, as well, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

From 2010 to 2020, Ridgefield saw a 1.6 percent boost in its total population. There was also a substantive change in the makeup of the population. In 2010, non-whites accounted for roughly 9 percent of Ridgefield’s citizenry. In 2020, they accounted for more than 16 percent.

The town’s Hispanic population saw the most growth, jumping 2.2 percent from 2010. Notably, the town’s white population fell more than 7 percent from the last census, which reflects a national trend.

Reuters reported Thursday that the country’s non-Hispanic white population, which remains the largest race or ethnic group, shrank by 8.6 percent over the decade and now accounts for 57.8 percent of the U.S. population — the lowest share on record.

“I think that diversity always brings benefits with it, (such as) different perspectives, life experiences (and) cultural contributions to the town,” Alex Harris said. “It only enhances … the value of growing up here.”

Harris is the executive director of Ridgefield Allies, a community organization that highlights what residents can do to educate, inspire and motivate themselves and one another to take action against racism.

His hope is that the influx in the number of diverse families and individuals living in Ridgefield can evolve and enhance the quality of life for all residents.

The new census data also show that the percentage of Ridgefielders under 18 dropped over the past 10 years, from 29 to 25 percent. The statistic is supported by sloping school enrollments, which began to take place around 12 to 14 years ago, according to First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

“We’re down about 1,000 students from where we were at a maximum of about 5,600,” he said. “Once the recession hit it had a big impact,”

Marconi said the town averages approximately one percent population growth per year. His guess is the influx of New Yorkers who traded the city for the suburbs during the pandemic could impact that number.

“We won’t have it in this census total but minus that our town has changed,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Marconi anticipates the demand for public transportation, housing, education and jobs will “get greater and greater” as the population continues to increase, and noted that municipalities should be prepared.

“How do you put a cap on it and stop that growth so you preserve what you have here and encapsulate it?” he posed. “You do (that) with zoning, but zoning's being challenged and it will be challenged again. For more housing, more affordability, greater diversity — all of those issues aren’t gonna go away.”

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com