Segregation Continues to Decline in Most U.S. Cities, Census Figures Show

Don Lee, Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2015

American urban areas have become significantly less racially segregated over the last 15 years as middle-class blacks continue to move to suburbs and whites and Latinos move into neighborhoods that were once heavily African American, according to newly released census data.

Although black-white segregation and residential barriers remain high in some of America’s largest cities, the latest census data show a trend of continuing integration in nearly all the nation’s major urban areas.

That trend has changed the face of most American cities despite racial tensions over the last year that have cast an image of a nation starkly separated between blacks and whites, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution here who analyzed the data.

Between 2000 and 2014, segregation between blacks and whites declined in almost all of the nation’s 53 metropolitan areas with a population of over a million, the analysis shows. Some of the biggest declines occurred in cities long divided by race, including Detroit and Chicago, but the progress was more modest in New York and Los Angeles, the nation’s two largest metropolitan areas.

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The picture of racial integration for Latinos was more mixed, the Census Bureau results indicate. Latino-white segregation has risen since 2000 in certain metropolitan areas predominantly in the Southeast and Midwest–Memphis, Tenn., and Columbus, Ohio, to name two. New Latino arrivals have tended to cluster in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods, but the overall levels of racial separation in those cities remain relatively low, Frey found.

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Of the major metropolitan areas, the new census data show, Milwaukee has the highest black-white segregation, with a value of 81, followed closely by New York and Chicago. Los Angeles has an index of 68, ranked eight.

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