Black Segregation in US Drops to Lowest in Century

WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.), December 14, 2010

America’s neighborhoods became more integrated last year than during any time in at least a century as a rising black middle class moved into fast-growing white areas in the South and West.

Still, ethnic segregation in many parts of the U.S. persisted, particularly for Hispanics.

Segregation among blacks and whites fell in roughly three-quarters of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas as the two racial groups spread more evenly between inner cities and suburbs, according to recent census data.

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Milwaukee, Detroit and Syracuse, N.Y., were among the most segregated, all part of areas in the Northeast and Midwest known by some demographers as the “ghetto belt.” On the other end of the scale, cities that were least likely to be segregated included Fort Myers, Fla., Honolulu, Atlanta and Miami.

Hispanic integration was mixed. There was less Hispanic-white segregation in cities and suburbs in many large metros such as Buffalo, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, according to preliminary census figures. But in many smaller neighborhoods, large numbers of more recently arrived Hispanic immigrants are believed to be clustering together for social support, experts said.

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{snip} Asians were most segregated in large metros such as Greensboro, N.C., and Stockton, Calif. They were most integrated in Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, due partly to the movement of more affluent Asians to suburbs.

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* Other large metros showing less segregation included those with technology-based economies, such as Boston, Seattle, Houston, Austin, Tex., and San Francisco, which attracted middle- and upper-income blacks to their suburbs.

Still, the recent gains in racial integration are somewhat limited, said John Logan, a sociologist at Brown University who has studied residential segregation. He noted that black-white segregation remained generally high in areas of the Northeast and Midwest. In those areas, there is slow population growth and white flight from increasingly minority neighborhoods is still common.

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