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US Closer To Minority Majority


WASHINGTON — New analysis released today by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program reveals rapid growth of Hispanic and Asian populations and new internal shifts of Blacks are transforming the demographics of America‟s largest metropolitan areas ahead of other parts of the country.

The report, The New Metropolitan Minority Map, is based on decennial census data from 1990, 2000, and 2010 for the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.  It describes how the new minority growth patterns sharply alter the demographic profiles of large metro areas.  The report also examines neighborhood residential segregation of Hispanics, Asians and Blacks in large metro areas. 

Additionally, the report notes the potential opportunities this greater diversity offers as well as the challenges of a cultural/generational gap as an older, majority-white population watches a younger, more diverse group of Americans grow up.  The social, economic, and political issues presented by these changes are profound.

“The 2010 census reveals a broad sweep of racial and ethnic change that has made its greatest imprint on the nation‟s largest metropolitan areas,” said William H. Frey, Senior Fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program and author of the report.  “The rapid 'new minority' gains are coupled with the very modest growth, or often declines, in white populations.”

The findings include:

ï‚· Non-whites and Hispanics accounted for 98 percent of population growth in large metro areas from 2000 to 2010.  Forty-two of the 100 largest metro areas lost white population, and 22 now have “majority minority” populations.  Smaller metro areas and areas outside of metropolitan regions, by contrast, remain overwhelmingly white.

ï‚· Nearly half of Hispanics live in just 10 large metro areas, but those metro areas accounted for only 36 percent of Hispanic growth over the past decade.  Meanwhile, 29 of the 100 largest metro areas more than doubled their Hispanic populations; in two-thirds of these, Mexican Americans contributed most to Hispanic growth.

ï‚· Asians are even more concentrated than Hispanics, with one-third living in just three metro areas: Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.  While Chinese Americans remain the largest origin group among Asians, Asian Indians are dispersing more rapidly and accounted for more growth than other Asian groups in 63 of the 100 largest metro areas.

ï‚· Three-quarters of Black population gains from 2000 to 2010 occurred in the South. Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston led all metropolitan areas in Black population gains at the same time that Black population dropped in metropolitan New York, Chicago, and Detroit for the first time.

ï‚· Average neighborhood segregation levels held steady for Hispanics and Asians but declined for Blacks from 2000 to 2010. Older and northern metropolitan areas continue to register the highest segregation levels for minority groups.  Despite recent declines, Blacks remain more residentially segregated than either Hispanics or Asians.

“The "cultural generation gaps‟ between a more-diverse youth population and a less-diverse older population will become most prevalent within large metro areas, especially within the suburbs, where the divides will be most apparent,” said Frey.  “These groups will continue to compete over policies on immigration, education, and the divvying up of scarce public funds.” 

America's more globalized demographics carry opportunities for a more diverse and outwardlooking nation and workforce even as it presents challenges for policymakers and parts of our citizenry who are unprepared for changes of such speed and magnitude.  It is clear that “one size fits all” approaches will no longer apply.

Being on the front lines, the nation‟s largest metropolitan areas will be the laboratories for public policy decisions and race relations for decades to come.

The Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings—Created in 1996, the Metropolitan Policy Program (MPP) provides decision-makers with cutting-edge research and policy ideas for improving the health and prosperity of metropolitan areas including their component cities, suburbs, and rural areas. 

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