Monday, June 22, 2009

Redefining "minority" in some rural places (and urban ones, too)

A story in USA Today last week reported on a demographic trend reflected in 2008 Census Bureau data. The headline is "Minority kids grow to majority in some counties," and here are an overview paragraph and the paragraph most relevant to rural places:
An analysis of the under-20 population shows that minority youths are the majority in 505 counties and that 60 counties have reached that milestone in this decade.
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Black, Hispanic and Asian families are moving to suburbia. Some have come for jobs created by population growth. Others leave urban areas in search of more space, better schools and less crime. Most counties where the minority youth population surged past 50% from 2000 to 2008 are suburban or rural counties. Three are around Atlanta.
Looking at the map accompanying the story, I would guess that many of the rural counties where people of color are a majority of children are largely Native American counties, such as Big Horn, Glacier and Roosevelt counties in Montana. In Arizona and New Mexico, where the majority of virtually the entire states' child populations are children of color, both Latina/os and American Indians are part of the "minority" mix that has become the majority. In most of these counties, however, so-called minorities have long constituted a majority, so this is not really news. In other parts of the country, however, according to the USA Today report, Blacks and Asians--along with Latina/os, represent a more significant aspect of this demographic shift. My guess is that most of the 60 counties that have shifted in the past decade are outside the mountain West, the Great Plains, and the Southwest.

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