ERIE COUNTY. N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County is the only county in Western New York that saw a total population increase over the last ten years. Local officials are pointing to different factors that led to this historic benchmark.

“This is a great moment for the City of Buffalo to see population growth in our city,” said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

For the first time in 70 years, we’re seeing an increase in the population here in Western New York.

Based on the 2020 Census data released Thursday, Erie County’s population is more than 954,000, up more than 35,000 since the 2010 Census. The City of Buffalo saw an increase of more than 17,000 people, with the current population close to 280,000.

“We could tell based on the movement of new Americans in our city and our strategic efforts to be a welcoming city, to reach out to new Americans, to invite people of different backgrounds to come to our city that that strategy was working,” added Mayor Brown.

City leaders say it also helped that many were out in the community, speaking with residents about the importance of completing the census.

“Some of the things we did besides provide technical support – we did mask drives, we did grocery drives, we did census presentations with actual staff from the Census Bureau to come and de-stigmatize the census process,” said Jessica Lazarin, Office of New Americans, City of Buffalo.

Residents we spoke with say the city’s growth has led to its population growth.

“I think it’s quite pleasing to see that everything is going really, really good,” said one resident.

“It’s been a long time, we’ve been losing a lot of residents for a lot of reasons and it seems like things like Canalside, with the Bills, with the Sabres, with other things that are going on in the city that we’re starting to attract people back,” added resident Neil Harrigan.

While Niagara County had a small increase in residents 18 and up, the total population dropped from 2010.

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]