U.S. Jewish Population Substantially Larger Than Previously Estimated

American Jewish population 2012
How does the Jewish population compare to others in this region? Image courtesy SSRI

The Steinhardt Social Reseach Institute (SSRI) and Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University have released new estimates of the American Jewish population.

The accumulated evidence indicates that the U.S. Jewish population is substantially larger than previously estimated.

The study utilizes a data synthesis approach to yield estimates of the size and characteristics of the American Jewish population – the proportion of U.S. adults who claim Judaism as their religion, the number of secular/cultural Jews (i.e., Jews who identify other than by religion), and the number of children.

Key Findings:

There are an estimated 6.8 million Jewish adults and children in the United States

  • 4.2 million adults self-identify as Jewish when asked about their religion
  • Nearly 1 million adults consider themselves Jewish by background and other criteria
  • There are an estimated 1.6 million Jewish children

The U.S. Jewish population is concentrated in a few number of states and metropolitan areas

  • Over 40% of American Jews live in just six states. Slightly over 20% resides in New York State, 14% in California, followed by 12% in Florida; 8% in New Jersey; and 5% each in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania
  • The largest percentage resides in New York City (13%), with the next largest in Southern Florida (Miami, Palm Beach and Broward counties; 8.6%). New York suburban areas (Long Island and Westchester) account for 7% of the total population. Los Angeles County (including Ventura and Orange counties) accounts for just over 7% of the total population
  • Additional centers include Boston (including western Massachusetts areas), Northern New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Among adults who self-identify as Jewish by religion

  • Just over 1 million (24%) are aged 65 years and older
  • They are more than twice as likely as other Americans to be college graduates

With the study release, SSRI has introduced an interactive website that maps the U.S. Jewish population.

The complete report, American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012, is available for download.