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Census result shows increase in population of the North East

Released: 16 July 2012 Download PDF (87.5 Kb)

The population of the North East on census day (27 March 2011) was 2.6 million, an increase of 2.2 per cent from 2001 when it was 2.5 million. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the first results from the 2011 Census today.

The North East has the smallest population of any English region, but in common with every region between 2001-2011 there was an increase in growth. The increase in the North East was the smallest in any region.

By comparison the population across the whole of England and Wales increased by 7 per cent to 56.1 million, the largest growth in population in any 10-year period since census taking began in 1801. 

Jil Matheson, National Statistician said:

"I'd like to thank everyone in the North East for their support. The 2011 Census has been a resounding success and I am proud of the incredible effort that has been put in. It is a rich source of information about the population and its characteristics. Across England and Wales around 19 out of 20 people responded and we have excellent statistical methods for ensuring we have a complete estimate of the whole population. These statistics will provide valuable information for planners, policy-makers and the public for years to come. "

Four authorities saw a decrease in population in the North East: Sunderland (3.2 per cent), South Tyneside (3.1 per cent), Redcar and Cleveland (2.9 per cent), and Middlesbrough (2.0 per cent). Across all of England and Wales 17 local authorities decreased in population.

County Durham was the largest local authority in the North East by population with 513,200 people an increase of 19,440 (3.9 per cent) between 2001 and 2011. The greatest population growth was in Darlington UA, which saw a 7.9 per cent increase (7,700) in its population between 2001 and 2011.

The local authority with the fewest people was Hartlepool, with 92,000 people, but it still grew by 2 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

Middlesbrough was the most densely populated with 2,600 people per square kilometre, which equates to about 26 people on a rugby pitch. The least densely populated was Northumberland, with 63 people per square kilometre.

The authority with the largest proportion of people aged 65 and over was Northumberland, with 20 per cent; the smallest proportion in this age group was in Newcastle (14 per cent). Northumberland also has the smallest proportion of people aged 19 and under with 22 per cent,  and Middlesbrough the largest  with (26 per cent).

Across all of England and Wales there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of children under- five with over 400,000 more people in this age group in 2011 than in 2001. In the North East there were 10,300 more children under five compared with 2001 (7.4 per cent). Middlesbrough had the largest proportion of under fives with 6.9 per cent, with the smallest proportion in Northumberland  (5.1 per cent).

The total number of households in the North East was 1.1 million. Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees had the largest average household size in the region, with 2.4 people.

Glen Watson, Census Director said:

 "The whole operation has worked well. We met our targets both for response and quality. We’ve had fantastic support from the public, and also from voluntary groups, community groups and local authorities throughout England and Wales. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone involved, including the 35,000 people who worked on the data collection and helped to make the census a success."

Read the full report.

Local Authorities in North East ranked by population size in 2011 Census

North East 2011 population 2001 population Change 2001-2011 (per cent)
County Durham 513,200 493,800 3.9
Northumberland 316,000 307,400 2.8
Newcastle upon Tyne 280,200 266,200 5.3
Sunderland 275,500 284,600 -3.2
North Tyneside 200,800 192,000 4.6
Gateshead 200,200 191,200 4.7
Stockton-on-Tees 191,600 183,800 4.2
South Tyneside 148,100 152,800 -3.1
Middlesbrough 138,400 141,200 -2
Redcar and Cleveland 135,200 139,200 -2.9
Darlington 105,600 97,900 7.9
Hartlepool 92,000 90,200 2

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Background notes

  1. The census provides the most accurate estimate possible for the population of England and Wales and has been carried out every 10 years since 1801, apart from 1941, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The information provided to ONS is used solely for the census, is anonymised and protected for 100 years. Census day was on 27 March 2011. All census population numbers refer to that day.

  2. Government uses the census statistics to allocate funding for services such as education, transport and health. Policy makers in central and local government use the census to identify the needs of different communities and they are also used by commercial enterprises. It also provides the benchmark for future population estimates and for sample surveys.
  3. The ‘median’ is the value halfway up an ordered list of numbers. The median age is the age that half of the population are older than and half are younger than.
  4. For the first time every census questionnaire form could be filled out and returned on-line and 16 per cent of census returns were completed on-line.
  5. The 2011 Census figures will be used to base the 2011 population mid-year estimates which are due for release in September 2012. In due course the mid-year population estimates for 2002-2010 will be rebased. 
  6. National statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
  7. The second release, due between November 2012 and February 2013, will feature more detailed statistics including national identity, ethnicity, marital and civil partnership status, and religion.
  8. The regions referred to conform to standard statistical regions.
  9. For the latest on census, follow us on Twitter@2011censusinfo
  10. Some facts about the collection of census data:
    • The 25 million 32-page (16 sheets of paper) questionnaires sent to households in England and Wales were printed at the rate of eight questionnaires per second.
    • Stacked up, they would be 200 times the height of The Shard
    • Questionnaires were processed at a rate of 170,000 per day
    • Questionnaires were printed on paper from sustainable sources and 1,700 tonnes were destroyed and recycled after processing.
  11. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

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