Monday, December 29, 2014

How The "New Minorities" Are Re-Defining America

People walking down a random New York street
Hello Everyone:

As we wind down another year together, I want to take a moment to thank each and everyone of you for your continued readership.  It really means a lot.  I look forward to the coming year, bringing more posts on architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design. To wit, today we look at how minorities are position to re-define America.

In a recent article for CityLab, "March of the Non-White Babies," Tanvi Misra interviewed Demographer William Frey.  Mr. Frey explains how racial minorities will outnumber majority Caucasians by 2050.  The title of this article sounds like a bit of fear mongering on the part of the publication but, as Ms. Mirsa explains that the non-white baby boom will affect "...everything from family structures to economic trends to, obviously, voting patterns."

U.S. White and Minority Populations, 1970-2050
William Frey is an internationally known demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, who has written extensively on urban populations, migration, immigration, race, aging, and political demographics.  Mr. Frey recently published the book Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America, in which he analyzes the current rise of minority populations and predicts how they will reshape the American landscape in the not-to-distant future.

By 2050, the alleged "new-minorities"-Hispanics, Asians and multi-racial groups-is predicted to double.  If the first reason you give is immigration, you are not totally off the mark.  Immigration is definitely a factor, but it is specifically past immigrant.  What is the engine that drives and will continue to do so in the future is the bulk of the immigrant population already here is old enough to have babies.

U.S. Race Groups and Projected Growth

William Frey explains, "Back in the 1950s, we had a lot of Americans across the board in their childbearing years-we had all these babies...Now, that's really the only case for some the newer minorities."  From a demographic point of view, this is good news, because the Caucasian population is rapidly aging.  Thus, Mr. Frey concludes that the new minority baby boom comes at a good time.  "The surge in minority births will arrive just in time to pick up the slack...Absent any major change in immigration policy, the future of the American Labor market will depend on the next generation of U.S.-born minorities."  The first question that comes to mind is "Where are these 'new minorities' likely to live?"

Hispanic Concentration Areas and New Hispanic Destinations
This is a good first question, where will the "new minorities" live? Way back in the nineties, the balkanization of minority groups was a big concern.  Newly arrived Hispanic groups tended to cluster in major cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, or New York, while the rest of country was moving elsewhere.  However, in the last fifteen years, this trend has shifted.  Hispanic have spread out from the the immigration magnet cities such as the ones listed above, especially in the Southeast (e.g. Florida and Georgia) which before the recession happened, was an economically growing area.

Another prediction is migration to the Mountain West.  Why the Mountain West? Employment was relocating to this region, creating opportunities in different labor sectors. Yet, the recession has slowed some of the upward trajectory but Mr. Frey believes, "I think that's temporary."

Asian Concentration Areas and New Asians Destinations
The next subject that Tanvi Mirsa asked William Frey about was migration cities and suburbs.  The suburbs used to be the ultimate destination for people who wanted a safe place to raise their children and good schools.  However, the injection of the "new minorities" are making this once sedate place into something more lively.  Minorities moving to the suburbs is not a new phenomena. Over the past two decades, more Asian metropolitan residents have set up house in the suburbs.  Now, more Hispanics are migrating to suburbia as well.  Mr. Frey reports, "Now, with the 2010 Census, there are more blacks moving to the suburbs...which is a real milestone in the U.S, given the strong city-concentration of blacks for many, many, many decades.  This younger generation of African-Americans-professionals and graduates-are moving off to the suburbs just like younger people other race groups."

Contributions to City and Suburban Population Change

How does the Asian, Hispanic, and African-American presence affect the suburbs?  At the ground level, it means that institutions and community organizations need to open themselves up to people of different backgrounds.  How does this square with the African-American population overall?

William Frey says, "In the 1990s and since 2000-the last 20 years or so-there's been a much more full migration of blacks back to the South.  The major metropolitan areas that's attracting blacks is Atlanta, which has been a fairly successful for most of these areas."  Mr. Frey adds, "They haven't moved back as to Alabama and Louisiana, places that haven't been doing as well."  It's tempting to read this and think the South?  Really?  After all that bloody history?  That interpretation of the information would completely miss the contemporary reality.
Greatest Black Suburban Gainers, 2000-10

It is not just young middle class African-Americans, desperate for jobs, that moving to the American South.  Mr. Frey predicts, "...we're going to see in the next decade or so, many more African-America retirees who spent their lives in Northern cities will decide when they retire they're going to move to the South. What's interesting about the black migration back to the South is that it's a real destination for them."  Mr. Frey speculates, "It's the economy, but I think it's a little bit of history, in that, maybe their parents weren't from there but maybe their grandparents were....There's something about the history of the South and the culture of the that's part of the pull as well." What does this imply for the white population?

Metropolitan Chicago and Atlanta Black Populations, 1970-2010

For the white population, "It's kind of a zero-sum population shift...," say Mr. Frey.  " [The white population] isn't growing very rapidly at all.  That means any place that gains whites through migration means some other place has to lose them."  In terms of numbers, approximately fifteen states, 140 metropolitan areas, and over half the counties across the country are losing their Caucasian population.  Where does the Caucasian population move to?  The same places a bulk of the minorities are heading to, i.e. places with good economies in the Southeast and the Mountain West.  Finally, one has to ask about the implications of this demographic reshuffling.

Black-White Segregation:
Average Levels for Metropolitan Areas, 1930-2010

Sounding an optimistic note, William Frey says, "I'd like to think this whole story about the new minority in the country is a good news story for the U.S."  He notes that implications of the growth of the new minorities is being felt in interracial marriages and affecting the politics of places.  Migration occurs at different speeds in different locations, however Mr. Frey emphasizes, "...but it is moving out and an integration-not only across regions, cities, and suburbs, but at the neighborhood level."  With any migration, there are always going to be some difficult adjustments.  This is a historic fact vis-a-vis America's history of immigration.
In the not-to-distant future, minorities will become the majority, thus determining the direction of this country.  What remains to be seen is how this will translate into real world practical policies.  How our current law makers address the major issue immigration today will have profound impact for the future that will be felt in every aspect of our lives.  Thus, it becomes incumbent on lawmakers to recognize that we live in changing society and must adapt to it.     

No comments:

Post a Comment