Whites leave suburbs for cities


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

White flight? In a reversal, America’s suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.

An analysis of 2000-08 census data by the Brookings Institution highlights the demographic “tipping points” seen in the past decade and the looming problems in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, which represent two-thirds of the U.S. population.

The findings could offer an important road map as political parties, including the tea-party movement, seek to win support in suburban battlegrounds in the fall elections and beyond.

In 2008, Barack Obama carried a substantial share of the suburbs, partly with the help of minorities and immigrants.

The analysis being released today provides the freshest detail on the nation’s growing race and age divide, which is now feeding tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.

Ten states, led by Arizona, surpass the nation in a “cultural generation gap” in which the senior populations are disproportionately white, and children are mostly minority.

Suburbs still tilt white. But, for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city.

The suburbs now have the largest poor population in the country. They are home to the vast majority of baby boomers age 55 to 64, a fast-growing group that will strain social services after the first wave of boomers turns 65 next year.

Other findings:

About 83 percent of the U.S. population growth since 2000 was minority, part of a trend that will see minorities become the majority by midcentury. Across all large metro areas, the majority of the child population is now nonwhite.

The suburban poor grew by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 — five times the growth rate of the city poor. City residents are more likely to live in “deep” poverty.

For the first time in several decades, the population is growing at a faster rate than households, due to delays in marriage, divorce and births as well as longer life spans.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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