Dutchess County is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area.
In 1990 Dutchess County had a population of 259,462.
As of the census of 2000, there were 280,150 people, 99,536 households, and 69,177 families residing in the county. The population density was 350 people per square mile (135/km²). There were 106,103 housing units at an average density of 132 per square mile (51/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 83.66% White (80.3% non-Hispanic whites), 9.32% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 2.52% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.37% from other races, and 1.89% from two or more races. 6.45% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.0% were of Italian, 16.9% Irish, 11.3% German and 6.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 88.3% spoke English, 4.8% Spanish and 1.3% Italian as their first language.
Based on the Census Ancestry tallies, including people who listed more than one ancestry, Italians were the largest group in Dutchess County with 60,645. Irish came in a very close second at 59,991. In third place were the 44,915 Germans who barely exceeded the 44,078 people not in the 105 specifically delineated ancestry groups.
6.45% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Puerto Ricans made up the largest portion of Latinos, with 2.9% of the total county population. 2.1% of the county population was in the category "other Hispanic or Latino". The other Hispanics and Latinos were a varied group. About 700 were born in the Dominican Republic, while people born in Colombia or Ecuador slightly exceeded 800. Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama all had more than 100 natives in Dutchess County. There were 1,685 people in the county born in Mexico but they were exceeded by the total 1,894 born in South America.
There were 99,536 households out of which 34.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.16.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.10% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 23.20% from 45 to 64, and 12.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 100.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $53,086, and the median income for a family was $63,254. Males had a median income of $45,576 versus $30,706 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,940. About 5.00% of families and 7.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.50% of those under age 18 and 6.50% of those age 65 or over.
The per capita income and average home values have increased noticeably in recent years mainly due to affluent residents relocating from nearby and expensive Westchester County, NY. In recent years, there has been a large influx of people that have relocated from New York City, mainly from the Borough of The Bronx.
By 2006 the population of Dutchess County was estimated at 295,146. 80.3% of the population was White (non-Hispanic whites being about 77% of the population), 8.0% Black (if Hispanic Blacks are excluded the namber falls at most to 7.8% of the population), 8.4% Latino and 3.4% of the population was Asian. Chinese and Asian Indians were by far the largest Asian groups, both numbering over 3000 people while the next largest group, Koreans, numbered just over 1000 people.
Amtrak has stations in Rhinecliff, a small hamlet in the Town of Rhinebeck, and Poughkeepsie, with both stations being served by Empire Service trains as well as other trains that run along the line . The latter station is the terminus of the Hudson Line of the Metro-North Railroad. The Hudson Line also has station stops in New Hamburg (a hamlet of the town of Poughkeepsie) and Beacon.
The Harlem Line, on the eastern side of the county, has station stops in Pawling, Wingdale, Dover Plains, and two stops in Wassaic (one along the Tenmile River and the other the namesake terminus of that line).
Public transportation in Dutchess County is handled by the Dutchess County Department of Mass Transit, branded publicly as the LOOP system. Outside of the urbanized area of the county, most service is limited. The City of Poughkeepsie operates its own limited system as well. Privately run lines connect Poughkeepsie to New Paltz and Beacon to Newburgh.
For intercity bus service, Adirondack Trailways and Short Line Bus also operate some service through Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, and the southern part of the county. The last time service ran outside that area was in the late-1990s when Peter Pan/Bonanza ran service to New York City in the eastern part of the county.
The Dutchess County Airport, located in the town of Wappinger, is a general aviation facility which once had commercial service. The closest commercial airport, Stewart International Airport, is located across the Hudson River in Newburgh.