Until the 1990s, the population of Beachwood had been growing rapidly, along with many other municipalities in Ocean County. Ocean County has been the fastest growing county in New Jersey over the past 40 years. Over time, development within Ocean County has extended inland to areas where large tracts of vacant land are still available. Ocean County is expected to grow but the population of Beachwood Borough is projected at a much lower rate than the county. Even over the past decade, Beachwood has experienced a slowdown of the rapid population increases experienced during the post-World War II period. With little vacant land remaining for new residential buildings, the Borough population will peak within the coming decade.
Analyzing changes in and composition of the population of Beachwood Borough will allow decision makers in the Borough to plan and provide for the appropriate level of government services. “Will the school population rise or fall over the next few years?” “Will we need to provide for a growing senior population?” and “What safety services do we need to provide over the next decade?” are questions that can be answered by population and demographic analyses.
Population trends within Beachwood Borough are influenced by a variety of factors including national, state and regional economic conditions; social changes; government policy; employment trends; consumer preferences; and environmental and land use regulations by State and Federal agencies. As the year 2000 Census data for population and housing becomes available, the Planning Board can monitor population growth and composition and review its planning program to determine how the needs and desires of present and future residents of Beachwood Borough may be changing.
Population Trends: 1920-1998
Beachwood Borough experienced its first Federal Census in 1920 with a recorded total of 40 permanent residents on March 10, 1920. The Borough population increased rapidly in the 1920s and reached a recorded total of 394 persons in 1930. The population increased moderately to 650 in 1940. However, during the decade between 1940 and 1950, Beachwood Borough’s population increased at a significantly faster rate than Ocean County and the State of New Jersey. The Borough population increased from 650 in 1940 to 1,251 in 1950, a 92.5 percent increase compared to 50.2 percent increase for the county and 16.2 percent increase for the state. These increases reflect post-war building and the baby boom.
In the 1950s, Beachwood Borough more than doubled (a 121 percent increase) from 1,251 persons in 1950 to 2,765 by 1960. In comparison, Ocean County population increased by 91.2 percent. In the 1950s, a nationwide trend towards suburbanization occurred as people moved outward from the metropolitan centers to less developed commuter suburbs. In addition, the popularity of the coastal and bay areas of the state as resort retreats contributed to development in Beachwood. The opening of the Garden State Parkway in 1954, however, spurred suburbanization of interior areas of the primarily undeveloped Ocean County.
The population of Beachwood continued to increase between 1960 and 1970 from 2,765 to 4,390 persons. During the decade of 1970 to 1980, the state, and to a lesser extent county, population growth rates began to stabilize. In contrast, Beachwood Borough had its largest numerical increase of 3,297, a 75.1 percent increase between 1970 and 1980.
During the decade, 1980 to 1990, the Borough population increased 21.3 percent, the county population increased 25.2 percent and the state population increased by 5.0 percent. The slowing growth rate in population in Beachwood Borough over the last decade was due to the diminishing availability of land.
Population estimates by the New Jersey Department of Labor indicate that the Borough population reached 10,000 between July 1, 1996 and July 1, 1997. On July 1, 1998, the population of Beachwood was estimated at 10,130. The 806 increase in estimated population from 1990 to the 1998 from 9,324 to 10,130, reflects a continuation of the slowing growth rate, due largely to the developed nature of Beachwood and decreasing developable land. Table 4-1 “Population: 1920 – 1998 for Beachwood, Ocean County and New Jersey”, summarizes the borough, county and state population trends from 1920 to 1998.
The general characteristics of the Borough population can be obtained from the 1990 U.S. Census of Population. These characteristics include age, sex, race, employment and income.
Age – The 1990 Census recorded the median age of Beachwood Borough residents as 31.3 years. This is the fourth youngest municipal population in Ocean County.
Sex – The Beachwood Borough population in 1990 was 51.7 percent female and 48.3 percent male, the same ratio of the state in 1990. Ocean County’s population had a ratio of slightly more females, 52.9 percent, than males, 47.1 percent.
Race – The 1990 Census recorded the population of Beachwood Borough as 98 percent white and two percent Asian, black, Native American and other races not listed. These figures compare with the county percentage of 95.3 percent white and 2.8 percent black. All other races accounted for 1.9 percent of the county.
Employment – An estimated total of 5,408 persons were part of the labor force for Beachwood Borough in 1997. Of the labor force, 5,080 were employed while 328 persons were unemployed. This resulted in an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. This matches the 1997 county unemployment rate.
Income – Median household income for Beachwood Borough in 1989 was $40,584. In comparison, the Ocean County median was $33,110 and the New Jersey median was $40,927.
Per capita income for Beachwood Borough in 1989 was $14,510, lower than the county level of $15,598 and state level of $18,714. Per capita income is the calculated average amount of income available per person.
Income levels are affected by educational attainment, occupation and age. Education and occupation are related to earning potential and higher incomes for workers while income generally declines after retirement.
Development trends can be tracked through the number of building permits issued annually for new residential housing units. New residential building permit data is maintained on a state-wide basis by the New Jersey Department of Labor. This data indicates that from 1980 – 1989, 553 new residential building permits and 11 demolition permits were issued for a net gain of 542 new residences. From 1990 – 1999, 215 new residential building permits were issued. A review of building permits from 1980 to 1999 indicates that construction of new residential units peaked in 1985 and 1986 and then rapidly declined. Table 9-2, Residential Construction and Demolition Permits, documents building permits issued during the past two decades. Residential building in Beachwood over the past 19 years has been single family housing units. An average of 54 new housing units were constructed [per year] between 1980 and 1989. During the 1990 to 1999 period, an average of 22 new units a year have been constructed.
Several population projection models are presented for the Borough of Beachwood for the years 2000, 2010 and 2020. While population projection models can produce a broad range of results, it is expected that the Borough population will increase from the 1990 population of 9,324 to approximately 10,300 to 10,700 in 2020 based on analyses of existing demographic data and the limited number of buildable lots remaining in the borough. A “projection” is defined “as the measurement of a future condition that would exist if the assumptions and procedures of the method prove to be empirically valid in the future.” Projections are based on one or more assumptions including a continuation of past conditions, present conditions, or trended changes in historical conditions. Projections can also be based on entirely new translation rates.
In order to develop reasonable population projectionsfor Beachwood Borough, a variety of population projection models were evaluated including linear regression, geometric, parabolic, modified exponential, Gompertz and logistic models. Several calculations for each model were produced using different starting point years to assess the applicability and functionality of the models. It should be noted as indicated in the above definition of a projection that an infinite number of projections can be calculated using different models with different starting years and other variables. Therefore, in preparing meaningful population projections for the borough, other factors about the borough must be considered to limit the number of possible outcomes that models can produce. Such factors include availability of vacant land for construction, changing household size, composition of age groups, birth and death rates, in- and out-migration of residents, and the annual number of residential building permits. Although projections are based on past demographic trends they are not a forecast and are not intended to be official. They are for reference purposes only. Dramatic changes or disruptions in the economic and demographic conditions in the future can impact and could invalidate the projections. Presented in Table 4-2 Population Projections 2000-2020 are population projections for Beachwood Borough using three of the most common projection models. As can be seen the results of these models produce projected populations for the year 2020 ranging from 9,963 to 10,741.
The Modified Exponential, Gompertz and Logistic Models assume that growth will move toward, or from, an asymptotic upper or lower growth limit. The projections will take the form of an S-shaped curve in which growth begins slowly, increases rapidly for a while then slows as it approaches a fixed upper growth limit. These models produced nearly identical projections to the year 2020, between 9,963 and 10,741. These projections appear to be the most reasonable of the models reviewed in light of the fact that the population growth in Beachwood Borough is following an S-curve. The borough population approximately doubled every ten years from 1930 through 1980, but sustained slower growth through the 1980s, indicating the borough had begun to reach the upper limit of growth. The slowdown in growth was primarily due to the unavailability of vacant land.
Parabolic, linear, and geometric models were also reviewed. The Parabolic Model is a model that assumes growth increases or decreases by a constant amount in the future. This model produced very low projections for the borough by the year 2020, more than halving the population by 2020. The Linear Model assumes that the dependent variable (population) will always increase or decrease by equal amounts for equal time periods. The linear model produced a population projection that almost doubled by 2020. This is due to the fact that the population increased every decade since 1930 and this trend was projected into the future. The geometric curve assumes that growth will correspond to a constant growth rate or decline. The geometric curve produced even higher results, projecting a tripling of the population by 2020. The parabolic, linear and geometric do not appear to be as reasonable as the other statistical models reviewed.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Population projections based on past trends assume population change will continue into the future based on historical trends. In Beachwood, the historical trend already show the borough population leveling off and three of the population models performed well in extending this moderating trend into the future. The largest parcels of vacant land in the borough are located west of the Garden State Parkway (Beachwood West) and along Pinewald Road east of the parkway. Beachwood West was acquired by Ocean County in March 2000 for park, recreation and open space. Tracts of vacant developable private land between Pinewald Road and the parkway are located in the Business B-2 and B-3A areas of the Master Plan. These areas have not developed to date due to diverse ownership including scattered vacant parcels owned by the borough and the lack of utilities and improved roadways. New residential development in the borough, therefore, is expected to be “infill development” on the remaining scattered vacant lots located in the borough east of Pinewald Road and the Garden State Parkway. Family size and composition will be the main factors affecting the total borough population in the future.
It is recommended that population projections be utilized only as general guides and that actual growth be monitored periodically to determine the rate of change within the borough. Various indices can be monitored including birth and death records; building and demolition permits; school enrollments; and county, state and federal population estimates. The latter estimates are developed cooperatively based on a variety of component data, including birth and death records, institutional residents, sample surveys, vehicle registrations, building permit data and others. Close coordination with county, state and federal agencies can provide updated data to determine population trends in the borough prior to the year 2000 U.S. Census.