- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Report notesshift since ‘90

Minority populations shifted dramatically within the United States between 1990 and 2004 as Hispanics and Asians moved away from large metropolitan areas and blacks moved to the South, according to a new study.

The “Diversity Spreads Out” report by the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington shows that although older large cities still house the majority of Hispanics and nonwhites in the United States, Hispanics, Asians and blacks increasingly are moving to smaller metropolitan areas that historically have been largely white.

“There is a broader sprinkling of all minorities away from the traditional melting-pot places,” said demographer William Frey, who wrote the report.

The movement toward inland metropolitan areas, such as Sacramento, Calif., Phoenix and Las Vegas, is particularly pronounced among Hispanics, Mr. Frey said. In 2004, 907 counties across the country were at least 5 percent Hispanic compared with 538 counties in 1990.

Between 1990 and 2004, the percentage of the nation’s Hispanics who lived in New York and Los Angeles dropped from 30 percent to 23 percent.

“California’s dominance as a destination for immigrants, especially Latinos, is not as great as it once was,” said Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy Institute of California.

Minorities contributed the majority of population growth in the nation’s 11 fastest-growing metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2004. In the past, nonwhites did not necessarily follow the population shifts of whites.

In the 1960s, immigration reform and civil rights legislation fueled the movement of Hispanics and Asians to port cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In that decade, there was a rise in the black middle class and growing numbers of blacks moved from the South to the North and West.

That pattern slowed over the next two decades, until it started to reverse in the 1990s. The move away from large cities really picked up in 2000.

States in the South saw a large increase in their black populations. Fifty-six percent of the nation’s blacks now live in the South; the most notable shift has been to Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

The move to the South appears to be accelerating — 72 percent of the population growth among the nation’s blacks from 2000 to 2004 happened there. The Atlanta region’s black population soon will overtake that of Chicago, the report finds.

“African-Americans are leaving the inner city and buying houses in a better neighborhood with better school districts,” he said.

Asians are starting to spread out, like Hispanics, though they remain the most concentrated of the three minority groups in traditional immigrant areas of large metropolitan regions.

• Distributed by Scripps Howard.

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