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Jews in America:
Trends in American Jewish Demography

by Ira Sheskin (March 2019)

Numbers and Geography

● About 6.9 million Jews live in the United States. The Jewish population has increased from 6.1 million in 2000 and 6.5 million in 2010.

● 44% of Jews live in the Northeast, 11% in the Midwest, 22% in the South, and 23% in the West. A significant shift out of the Northeast to the South and West has occurred over the past 40 years.

● Eight states have a Jewish population of 200,000 or more: New York (1,769,000); California (1,183,000); Florida (629,000); New Jersey (545,000); Illinois (298,000); Massachusetts (293,000); Pennsylvania (298,000); and Maryland (237,000).

● A large percentage of Jews live in some of the largest US metropolitan areas: (New York-Newark (2,269,000 Jews), Los Angeles-Long Beach (686,500), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (536,000), Washington-Baltimore-Arlington (414,200), San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland (343,000), Philadelphia-Reading-Camden (309,000), Boston-Worcester-Providence (298,000), and Chicago-Naperville (295,000).          

● 14% of Jewish adults are foreign-born, compared to 17% of the U.S. general public

Demography

● American Jews are an aging population, with a growing number of people age 65-74. (Persons age 65-74 are the leading age of the baby boom.)

● 24% of Jewish adults are age 65 and over, compared to 18% of the U.S. general public.

●The median age of Jewish adults is 50 years, compared to 46 years for the U.S. general public.

● Fertility (average number of children ever born per adult age 40-50) is only 1.9 children, compared to 2.2 children for the U.S. general public.

● The average household size for Jewish households is 2.7. It is 4.3 for Orthodox households, compared to 2.6 for the non-Orthodox. The 2.7 also compares to 2.6 for the U.S. general public.

● 58% of Jewish adults have a 4-year college degree, compared to 30% of the U.S. general public.

● 25% of Jewish households earn $150,000 and over, compared to 8% of the U.S. general public.

● 94% of Jews are white-non-Hispanic, compared to 66% of the U.S. general public.

Religiosity

● 78% of adults Jews are Jews by religion. Another 22% are Jews of no religion (ethnic/secular Jews).

● 44% of married Jews have a non-Jewish spouse.

● 35% of U.S. Jews are Reform, 18% are Conservative, 10% are Orthodox, and 36% are Just Jewish.

● 30% of Jewish adults are very attached to Israel, 39% are somewhat attached, and 31% are not very or not at all attached.

● 43% of Jews have been to Israel.

● One-fourth of American Jews go to religious services at least monthly.

● 31% are synagogue members.

● 56% donated to a Jewish charity in the past year.


Sources: Ira M. Sheskin & Arnold Dashefsky. “United States Jewish Population, 2018,” in Arnold Dashefsky & Ira M. Sheskin. (Editors) American Jewish Year Book, 2018, 118 (2018) (Dordrecht: Springer) pp. 251-347;
Pew Research Center (2013) A Portrait of Jewish Americans.