By ELISE FRANCO
Though fewer people were living in Youngstown and Warren in 2010 compared to 10 years earlier, blacks made up a larger percentage of those cities’ total population.
Meanwhile, the Mahoning Valley’s suburbs and rural communities remain overwhelmingly white. The population of several townships are at least 97 percent white, according to an analysis by The Vindicator of U.S. Census Bureau figures.
More than 10,000 whites and about 5,500 blacks left Youngstown between 2000 and 2010, dropping the city’s population from 82,026 to 66,982.
Whites now make up 47 percent of the city’s population, with blacks being 45.2 percent.
The 1.8 percent difference between the two races is the closest in Youngstown’s history, and the first time whites make up less than half the city’s population. In 2000, whites were 50.9 percent of Youngstown’s population compared to 43.8 percent for blacks.
Larger numbers of blacks tend to live in urban areas, where housing is typically less expensive such as Youngstown and Warren, said Thomas Finnerty, associate director of Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies.
“The fact is poverty is concentrated in the Valley by race,” he said. “It isn’t to say all minorities are poor. When you have a class of people less able to move, they are more likely to be left behind. We’re seeing a money flight. It’s more economics than race. There’s a concentration of black poverty in Youngstown, and it’s been a historic trend since they started counting people.”
Arlette Gatewood, 82, born and raised in Youngstown, said he’s not at all surprised by the new census statistics.
“The opportunities aren’t here for young people anymore, so they have to go away,” he said. “What’s left is a dependent population, both old and young.”
Gatewood, who lives on the city’s East Side, said though many people living in Youngstown stay because they have to, a secure pension allows him to stay because he wants to.
“In the era I grew up in, jobs were plentiful,” he said. “I worked as a business agent for Youngstown Sheet & Tube, and received a good pension, so it was easy for me to stay here.”
Sylvester D. Patton Jr., 61, the only black person ever elected to the Ohio House from Youngstown, said the exodus of people during the past 10 years has much to do with a lack of good jobs in the city.
“The job situation here is definitely a deterrent because there’s no room for employment for our offspring,” he said.
Patton, a South Side resident, said it’s easy to overlook how many people have really left in the last decade until the numbers are right in front of you.
“You do get a sense of it now if you go through the neighborhoods and see where all the vacant homes are,” he said. “I remember clearly a time when there were no vacant homes.”
Tyrone Chatman, 40, who lives on the South Side, said he has also experienced the changes in Youngstown.
“To see how much everything is going down is disturbing,” he said. “I think it’s part of what’s causing the crime and violence.”
Chatman said the city needs to decrease crime and increase jobs to draw people back in, but in order to do that, people who still live in Youngstown need to put more focus on their children.
“It’s really the main problem, the youth and how they’re coming up,” he said. “The problem isn’t going to go away, but more focus on it could help break it down.”
Whites made up 79.9 percent of Mahoning County’s population in 2010, down from 81 percent in 2000. Blacks saw a modest decrease in the county’s population to 15.7 percent in 2010 from 15.9 percent in 2000.
The rest are categorized by the Census Bureau as Latino, Asian, American Indian and Alaska native, native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, some other race, or two or more races.
Of all blacks in Mahoning County in 2010, 80.1 percent live in Youngstown. That’s down from 87.9 percent in 2000.
Two suburbs that border Youngstown saw increases in their black population.
Austintown’s percentage went from 5.1 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent in 2010.
Boardman’s black population more than doubled from 2.6 percent in 2000 to 5.9 percent in 2010.
“With houses more affordable in the suburbs, more minorities with money are moving there,” said Finnerty, who added that some are deciding to stay in urban cities.
Also, Campbell’s black population increased from 16.7 percent in 2000 to 21.2 percent last year.
Besides Austintown and Boardman, the county’s 12 other townships have white populations of at least 97 percent.
Berlin is 98.4 percent white with only six blacks and 33 other minorities. Ellsworth is 99.1 percent white with two blacks and 19 other minorities.
The village of Poland is 98.5 percent white with six blacks and 33 other minorities.
Also, there are seven blacks in Goshen, 15 in Green, 12 in Jackson, three in Lowellville, four in Milton, two in New Middletown, 11 in Sebring and three in Beloit, according to census figures.
In Trumbull County, the percentage of whites in terms of total population dropped from 90.2 percent in 2000 to 89 percent in 2010. The black population during that same time frame increased from 7.9 percent to 8.3 percent.
About two-thirds of the county’s black population live in Warren.
That city saw its black population increase from 25.2 percent in 2000 to 27.7 percent last year.
In several townships in Trumbull County, the black population is virtually nonexistent. Sixteen of its 25 townships have white populations of at least 97 percent.
According to census figures, there are eight blacks in Bristol, three in Farmington, seven in Fowler, five in Greene, eight in Gustavus, six in Hartford, seven in Johnston, 10 in Kinsman and three in Vernon.
In Columbiana County, the white population declined from 96.4 percent in 2000 to 95.5 percent last year, but the black population remained steady at 2.2 percent.
Fewer than 10 blacks live in six of the county’s 18 townships. Also, all 408 residents of the village of Hanoverton are white and only two of the village of New Waterford’s 1,238 residents are black, the census figures show.