The daytime populations -- New census data give credence to the idea that lower Fairfield County has shed its bedroom community image in favor of burgeoning business and employment. The number of people, including workers, present during normal business hours -- of many lower Fairfield County communities have received a significant boost thanks to incoming commuters. Westport and Stamford had the largest gains in daytime population in lower Fairfield County, while Norwalk and Darien also saw increases, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates based on Census 2000 data. Westport's estimated daytime population was 32,920 -- 27.8 percent more than its resident population of 25,749.
"We're not surprised to hear this because we've known for some time
that we have some very attractive office space here," Westport First
Selectwoman Diane Farrell said.
While cities such as Stamford
and Norwalk may attract large corporations, Westport has been able to
increase its daytime populace with employees working for smaller
businesses such as hedge funds and financial management firms, Farrell
said. About 18,600 people were employed in Westport, with
11,442 living in town, according to census data. Thousands of other
employees are commuting from Bridgeport, Fairfield and Norwalk, data
Stamford's estimated daytime population was 138,254, 18 percent above
the resident population of 117,083.
"We have always been a major employment center," Stamford Mayor Dannel
Malloy said. "And these statistics help dispel the image the rest of
the world may have of us as a bedroom community." A significant
influx of commuters provides its own challenges in housing and
transportation, Malloy said.
"We are not able to house every person who wants to work here," he
said. "And we need to make the commuter rail a better experience for
people coming from both directions." Almost 2,500 people
"reverse commute" to Stamford from Manhattan and the Bronx, N.Y.,
according to census data, and several also come from Norwalk,
Greenwich, Fairfield and Bridgeport.
The daytime populations
of Darien and Norwalk also have increased, according to the census.
Darien's work-hours population jumped 5.3 percent and Norwalk's 1.5
Greenwich, Wilton, Weston and New Canaan were not included in the
census report. Norwalk officials said they viewed the census data
as positive, despite
having a smaller population percentage gain than other lower Fairfield
With a resident population of 82,951 and
about 45,264 workers in Norwalk, a net gain of 1.5 percent is evidence
that the city imports as many commuters as it exports.
is why there's gridlock on (Interstate) 95," said Timothy Sheehan,
executive director of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. "But it also
drives home the fact that Norwalk is a large importer of jobs for
The across-the-board population increases
in lower Fairfield County municipalities listed in the report is
excellent news for the economy of the region, transportation planners
and business experts said.
"It's an indicator of how healthy
the region is," said Robert Wilson, executive director of the South
Western Regional Planning Agency.
"It's also very good for the retail base. A large influx of commuters
provides many with an opportunity build a customer base."
And while a higher daytime population may lead to problems such as more
traffic congestion, economic growth in lower Fairfield County is
ultimately beneficial, said Lisa Mercurio, spokeswoman for the Business
Council of Fairfield County.
"These are the areas where we would want to see that growth," Mercurio
"Growth is happening where it can be sustained."