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2010 Census Changes The Meaning Of Minority In SD County


The 2010 Census reveals a more ethnically diverse county than ever before. We've started to pour through the numbers and we'll have an early look at what they mean.

Demographers, politicians, and reporters are among the people pouring over the new California census data released this week. In San Diego, the 2010 census reveals a continuation of a trend toward a more ethnically diverse county. For the first time, non-hispanic whites make up fewer than 50-percent of the county population.


Jose Luis Jimenez, KPBS and Fronteras desk social media editor

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Will demographers, politicians, and reporters are among the people pureeing oaf the new California census data released this week. In San Diego, the 2010 census reveals a continuation of a trend toward a more ethically diverse county. For the first time, nonhispanic whites make up fewer than 50 percent of the county's population. Joining us with more of the data and what it means is social media editor for KPBS and our fronteras desk, Jose Luis Jimenez. And Jose, welcome.

JIMENEZ: Thank you, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, you are one of the people who are pouring over the census data since it was released Tuesday. What are some of the biggest changes revealed in this new information?

JIMENEZ: Well, as you mentioned, the latest counts show that there about 48,000 fewer non Hispanic whites in San Diego County, compared to the 2000 census, that decline combined with the continuing increase in several minority populations means that non Hispanic whites are no longer the dominant race in the county, especially in the modern era, dropping from about 59 percent of the population to about 49 percent of the population. And like I mentioned earlier, also helping drive this change was a significant rise in several minority populations, Latinos grew to about 30 percent by just about one million in the county, and Asians grew by about 34 percent to about 328,000 people in the county. Also driving this growth in the county were pacific Islanders, who grew at a much slower rate of 11 percent but still showed a significant increase. And I spoke to San Diego state university professor James Weeks who's a demographer, and head of the international population center, and he explained some of the factors in the population.

NEW SPEAKER: The major population change, growth over time has been in the Latino population in the county. And it's consistent with some of the intracensal data that we've seen in which there's been evidence that there's been quite a bit of domestic out-migration from San Diego County to other parts of the United States. And that's most heavily engaged in by the nonhispanic white population.

JIMENEZ: And this trend is expected to continue, as Latinos now make up just over 50 percent of the children in the county, meaning those who are younger than 18 years old. So demographers expect this trend to continue. And another interesting point is that the data shows that San Diego County is now in line with other counties along the U.S. Mexico border. For a long time, San Diego County was an anomaly that still had a majority white population even though they're right on the border, where's the rest of the counties all the way from here to Texas were we're a majority minority. Now San Diego is similar to those counties.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's really interesting. Jose, where in the county are we seeing the most dramatic population shifts.

JIMENEZ: Are, as professor weeks also explains, you're seeing the changes at both ends of the county, essentially, especially in the North County and down in the south bay. And as professor weeks explains, he has been tracking this trend for some time.

NEW SPEAKER: What we know then, as we suspected is that by and large, San Diego County is suburbanizing. So the areas outside of the city are growing at a faster rate than the areas inside of the city. And we do know that there are areas that have particularly expanded in size. I mean, the east lake area, the areas up around Rancho Peñasquitos that have grown dramatically through Escondido and San Marcos, we have had a lot of increase in those areas.

JIMENEZ: And digging a little deeper into those numbers issuing like he said, down in the south bay grew about 41 percent, and most of that was concentrated in the east Lake area. Up in North County, San Marcos led the way growing by 50 percent, that was followed closely by Carlsbad at about 35 percent, and other North County cities also saw growth but at much lower rates. And then in the City of San Diego, the city's population increased by about seven percent, and most of that growth was concentrated in Carmel Valley, like professor weeks said in the Rancho Peñasquitos area, and obviously in downtown San Diego with the high rise condos we've been seeing going up for years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, I know you spent most of your time looking into the results for San Diego county, what about Imperial County? Are they seeing similar changes?

JIMENEZ: Yes, Imperial County has also seen growth during that time, increasing the population by about 14 percent to about a 175000. And like I mentioned before, imperial county is one of those counties along the boarder that has been majority minority for some time. But the story in the desert seems to be housing of that's over all in the desert, including San Bernardino county and Riverside county, which saw huge increases in their housing units and thusly in their population. But one of the things that the census [CHECK] for example, in Imperial County, the number of housing units grew by nearly 28 percent during the decade. [CHECK] a little more dramatic in the cities, specifically in the city of imperial, which nearly doubled the number of its housing unit, but also again saw its vacancy rate grow from three up to seven percent.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're gonna talk about real estate right after this topic, Jose. Now, all of these numbers, they're fascinating to hear about them, but what does it kind of mean? For instance, what does this new census data expected to mean for San Diego County politics?

JIMENEZ: That's a good question. We had some people on our Facebook page kind of making fun of that. So what? The numbers are out. Who cares? Well, it will affect you. For example, it could have a significant impact on who is -- who will be your elected representative. The census specifically is designed to redraw the districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, so this data will be used to redraw those districts. And you could find that the Congressman who represents you now won't necessarily be the same Congressman who'll represent you in the next election. At the county level, those numbers are also used to create the supervisory districts throughout the county.


JIMENEZ: And right now, that is basically based on the population. They basically divide the population into five. But there has been some pressure on the [CHECK] to diversify their group. That started with a vote for creating term limits, and there might be a push also to create more diverse, ethically divorce supervisory council. And down in the City of San Diego, these number it's -- there has been some talk for some time about creating a ninth council district, and they're calling it the Asian council district to try and get some representation on the council. And these numbers could also be used to redraw all the districts in the county and to create this ninth council district where you have a majority of an Asian population to try and get that person on the council.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So it's not just numbers, it's gonna trickle and down and actually mean some substantial things as time goes on. As you've been looking through these numbers, Jose, what really centric you? Is there anything that really popped up and surprised you about any of the changing demographics in the neighborhoods?

JIMENEZ: Well, one of the interesting things about the census is, besides looking at the big numbers, state, and counties and cities, it also has what they call census tracks, which basically divide the counties into several small areas. [CHECK] it depends on how many people actually live there. Of and that's pretty interesting, when you start digging down into some of these numbers, you see that the African American population of course is concentrated in it southeast San Diego. But there's not necessarily a neighborhoods where African Americans are person 50 percent of the people within that census track. So that kind of coincides with the over all decline in the African American community which dropped about five percent in the county. Another interesting thing I found in looking at the census is what's -- the community with the largest percentage of Asians, you would think it would be kind of in the areas of Mira Mesa or Kearny Mesa where you see a lot of businesses that tend to tailor to that population. But it's actually in southeast San Diego, near the border with national city where this neighborhood has about 74 percent of the residents there said that they are Asians. And another interesting fact is obviously we're a military town, we have a lot of military personnel here, and they seem to contribute a lot to the diversity of the area. In the neighbors north of the Marine Corps recruit depot, which is of course near the San Diego international airport. You see a lot of diversity in those neighborhoods. And that's where most of the military -- a significant pocket of the military housing is located. And one of those neighborhoods is broken down, 28 Latino, 29 percent non Hispanic white, and [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh. So that is one of the most diverse neighborhoods we have.

JIMENEZ: You could make the argument it is. Of.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I know that you have been of course looking at these numbers, but you're not finished with it. Of the fronteras desk will be working on stories based on this census data. Give us a preview of what we could look forward to coming from your observations of this data.

JIMENEZ: At the fronteras desk, obviously we focus on storied in San Diego, but we also take a larger look [CHECK] Arizona and Nevada. And speaking to professor weeks and some other demographers, they predict that the southwest will likely be the most major region in the country to become minority majority, again most of the people living in this area will be minorities. And to help tell this story, reporter Ruxandra Guidi, is looking at a census track which is still mostly white, but in which the Latino population is quickly growing, which is kind of symptomatic of what we're seeing throughout the region, and she's planning going to the neighborhood and looking at the impact of this change at the neighborhood level. And then reporter Amy Isackson is gonna take at a look at the deeper situation in Imperial County, so those numbers we were talking about earlier in imperial county. And of course, the census is not down. They're gonna be releasing a lot more information, more specific demographic information, and that will likely start in the summer and continue throughout the rest of the year, and as those numbers continue coming out, we're gonna look at them and looking for more interesting stories to tell.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And looking forward to having you back again. Thank you so much.

JIMENEZ: Thank you are Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with social media editor for KPBS, and our fronteras desk, Jose Luis Jimenez. And if you would like to comment, please go online, Days. Coming up, get your real estate questions ready. Our spring real estate outlook is next on These Days here on KPBS.

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