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Black segregation in US drops to lowest in century

Associated Press | 12/21/2010, 6:45 p.m.

Milwaukee, Detroit and New York were among the most segregated between blacks and whites, all part of areas in the Northeast and Midwest. On the other end of the scale, cities that were least likely to be segregated included Las Vegas, Honolulu, Raleigh, N.C., and Albuquerque, N.M.

Hispanic integration was mixed. There was less Hispanic-white segregation in many large metros such as Seattle, Jacksonville, Fla., and Las Vegas, according to census data. But in many smaller neighborhoods of places such as Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago, large numbers of more recently arrived Hispanic immigrants who often speak Spanish at home were clustering together for social support.

The findings on segregation are based on a pair of demographic measures that track the degree to which racial groups are evenly spread between neighborhoods. Both measures showed declines in black-white segregation from 2000 to the lowest in generations.

For instance, the average white person now lives in a neighborhood that is 79 percent white, compared to 81 percent in 2000. The average black person lives in a 46 percent black neighborhood, down from 49 percent. For Hispanics, however, their average neighborhood last year was 45 percent Hispanic, up slightly from 44 percent.

“The political implications of these trends are great in the long run — majority black districts will become harder to sustain, while more majority Hispanic districts will emerge, especially for state and local positions,” Logan said.

The figures come from previous censuses and the 2009 American Community Survey, which samples 3 million households. For places with fewer than 20,000 people, the ACS figures from 2005-2009 were averaged to help compensate for otherwise large margins of error.

Due to incomplete 2009 data, the analysis of racial segregation omits seven metro areas: Sarasota, Fla., Greenville, S.C., Harrisburg, Pa., Jackson, Miss., McAllen, Texas, Portland, Maine and Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Associated Press