It was 2004 when Lorraine McCarthy, a full-time resident of this Cape May County resort, sold her duplex a block from the boardwalk and decamped to the mainland. “The choice we made to move off the barrier island was the same choice that a lot of people who wanted to make some money made,” said McCarthy, who lives in nearby Upper Township. “It was the best time to sell.”
The Jersey Shore’s real estate boom, it now seems, had a more profound effect on the region’s population than many realized. In beach towns up and down the coast, the number of year-round residents dropped significantly last decade – almost 40 percent in one case, according to recently released U.S. Census statistics that surprised and alarmed some local officials.
“I knew our population numbers were going to be down, but I didn’t know they were going to be down this much,” said Suzanne Walters, who has noticed the voter rolls shrinking during her 15 years as mayor of Stone Harbor. The little borough’s population declined 23 percent between 2000 and 2010.
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