Posted on June 8, 2015

In 25 Years, San Francisco Will Be a Lot Whiter

SFGate, June 8, 2015

San Francisco, which prides itself on its diversity and progressiveness, may be well on its way to returning to the white-dominated society it was in the middle of the last century.

A May 31 Chronicle article reported on an unprecedented effort by city leaders, businesses and community groups to curb black flight from San Francisco to the suburbs.

As of 2010, just 6.2 percent of the city was African American, down from 13.4 percent in 1970, when it was the second most populous ethnic group in the city, according to census data. In recent years the trend has continued; the number of black residents has dropped from 60,500 in 2010 to 48,000 in 2013.

But while the number of blacks has fallen dramatically, a new study by the San Francisco Foundation projects that the city’s Asian and Latino populations will shrink by greater percentages than African-Americans in the next 25 years.

Forty years ago, three out of four San Francisco residents were white (non-Hispanic). Now it’s less than one out of two.

The decline of white San Francisco coincided with an influx in Asian residents, whose numbers more than tripled between 1970 and 2010.

Despite projections that the Asian population will increase 45 percent nationally between 2005 and 2050, San Francisco’s Asian community is expected to shrink.

According to the San Francisco Foundation study, 28 percent of city residents will be Asian by 2040, down from 34 percent today. The Latino population is also predicted to dwindle, from 15 percent to 12 percent.

The reason? Neighborhood gentrification, soaring housing costs and wages lagging well behind the cost of living.

The projected exodus of Asians, Latinos and others is expected to reverse a 35-year trend in which people of color became the majority in San Francisco, rising from 34 to 58 percent. Whites will again outnumber people of color.

Interestingly, the study predicts the black population will remain flat, at about 6 percent.