Posted on June 14, 2011

Black Power Wanes amid Rising Hispanic Economic Clout in U.S.

Tim Jones, Bloomberg, June 9, 2011


The third-largest U.S. city lost 17 percent of its black population–181,000 people–in the past decade, according to the Census Bureau. In their place, Hispanics gained 25,000, or 3.3 percent. {snip}

In the city that drew waves of blacks during the Great Migration of the early 20th century, their descendants barely remain the largest racial or ethnic group, at 32.4 percent. Blacks earn less and are more likely to live in poverty than Hispanics, who make up almost 30 percent of Chicago, a city of 2.7 million that lost 6.9 percent of its population since 2000.

The reversal of fortunes for the two groups is echoed nationwide, where blacks have fallen to 12.6 percent of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million, and Hispanics have risen to 16.3 percent. Hispanics are also outpacing blacks economically: Their median household income rose 21.6 percent in the decade to $40,946, compared with $34,445 for blacks.


Reversing Great Migration

The population shift in Chicago is part of a nationwide phenomenon of blacks moving out of cities and into suburbs or reversing the Great Migration and returning to Southern U.S. states, William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote in a May 4 report.

“There’s a national trend of black suburbanization, a new generation of African-Americans who both have more opportunity and don’t see their future living in cities, like their parents and grandparents,” Frey said in a telephone interview from Washington.


Fatter Wallets

Hispanics also are strengthening their financial position at a faster pace than blacks. In Chicago, the median household income of Hispanics in 2009 was $41,802, up 14 percent over 2000, compared with $30,769 for blacks, up 6 percent over the same period, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The poverty rate for Hispanics in 2009 was 21.6 percent, compared with 31.7 percent for blacks.


Business Graveyard

People aren’t the only ones who have departed from Davis’s neighborhood, which was devastated by the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. His district also was once home to Sears, Western Electric, International Harvester and Allied Radio–“all of them gone,” Davis said.