Minorities Lead Growth in Biggest Cities

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(Courtesy of The New York Times)

WASHINGTON — Minorities accounted for 98 percent of the population growth in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas over the past decade, according to a new report, as the country’s white population continued to stagnate, and in many places, decline.

Hispanics and Asians led population growth in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas over the past decade, growing by 41 percent and 43 percent respectively. The population of blacks grew by 12 percent, and the aging white population was largely flat, increasing by less than 1 percent.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution and the author of the report, also said the United States had reached a demographic milestone: About half of all recent births were to minority parents, a shift that will have broad policy implications in the years to come.

The country’s largest cities are changing the fastest, Dr. Frey said, and provide a snapshot of what the country might look like in the future. Hispanics were 20 percent of the population of large metropolitan areas — defined by the Census Bureau as cities and their suburbs — up from 15 percent in 2000, and 11 percent in 1990. Blacks, the second-largest minority group, accounted for 14 percent of the population of large cities in 2010, unchanged from 2000. Asians totaled 6 percent.

The population increases added 11 million Hispanics to the populations of the largest American cities, nearly 4 million Asians, and 3 million blacks, Dr. Frey said. The number of whites increased by just over 400,000.

“Where these large metro areas are now is where the rest of America is headed,” he said. “The old image of the white and black American population is obsolete.”

The non-Hispanic white population is aging, with the share of women in their childbearing years shrinking. Hispanics, by contrast, are much younger, with a relatively large part of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years.

In large metropolitan areas, the white population represented 57 percent of the total in 2010, down from 71 percent in 1990. Whites accounted for a bigger share in smaller cities, at 73 percent, and in rural areas, at 80 percent, Dr. Frey said.

In all, the white population shrank in 42 out of the top 100 cities. Leading the decline in the share of the white population was Las Vegas, where it fell to 48 percent of the total in 2010, from 60 percent in 2000.


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