Brookings: San Francisco, Oakland Among U.S. Cities Gaining White Population After Decades of Loss

The two-decade-long outmigration of whites from San Jose stopped in the last four years, according to William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

The two-decade-long outmigration of whites from San Jose stopped in the last four years, according to William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. Frey analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data since 1990 for the 50 largest cities in the United States.

By Sharon Simonson

Whites are returning to America’s cities including San Francisco and Oakland, reversing what had become persistent outmigration.

In the two decades from 1990 to 2010, America’s 50 largest cities experienced a net loss of more than two million people who identified themselves as white, according to the new findings from The Brookings Institution’s William Frey based on U.S. Census Bureau data. In the first four years of the current decade, the same 50 cities experienced a net gain of nearly 500,000 white people.

Young adults aged 25- to 34-years-old and their young children are leading the shift, along with older adults aged 55 to 74, Frey found.

“The impetus for this change is undoubtedly related to the post 2010 revival of big city growth that has been documented by earlier Census Bureau estimates,” Frey wrote in a short report accompanying the statistics. “While whites are not leading that growth in most cities, they are clearly participating in it.”

The white population in San Francisco climbed by more than 12,000 people in the four years ending with 2014. That followed two decades during which the city gained fewer than 500 net new white residents. San Francisco’s overall population climbed by nearly 130,000 people in the last 24 years.

Oakland gained nearly 10,000 white residents in the four years ending with 2014 — on top of a gain of more than 7,000 white residents in the decade before. From 1990 to 2000 Oakland’s white population declined by 11,250. Oakland’s population has grown by 15,200 people in the last 24 years.

In San Jose, in the two decades ending with 2010, the self-proclaimed Capital of Silicon Valley experienced a net loss of more than 116,000 people who identified themselves as white. But from 2010 to 2014, that outmigration stopped, and the San Jose white population saw no statistical change. The region’s largest city by far saw its overall population grow by 220,000 people from 1990 until the end of last year.

Other cities with a “noteworthy” reversal in the decline of their white population, Frey said, were Detroit, which registered a 2000 to 2014 white gain of 14,000 people after sustaining white losses for the past 60 years; New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Louisville, Nashville, Baltimore, Kansas City and New Orleans experienced white population growth after at least 20 years of white losses.

Frey doesn’t expect American cities to become whiter in coming years in part because only four of the 50 cities — Detroit, Washington, D.C., Denver and New Orleans — saw an increase in their white-population shares, and the increases were small. Thirty-two of the 50 large cities are already less than 50 percent white, including San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento. In addition the U.S. white population is expected to begin to fall in numbers a decade from now. To read more, go here.

50LargestUSCities.WhitePopChange.1990-2014

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