The Crusader Newspaper Group

Chicago’s Black population keeps falling

Craig Hinz,

We in the media—I’ll plead guilty to contributing—had quite a field day in mid-May when the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, after stabilizing and even increasing earlier in the decade, Chicago’s population has resumed its decades-old decline.

The drop wasn’t much, more like a wobble, with an estimated loss of 0.11 percent, or about 3,000 people last year. And frankly the decline in the metro area population is more disturbing. But a decrease of any magnitude is going to draw attention from those eager to declare that Chicago has at least nine toes in the grave.

Far more interesting, though, is what’s happening within that number, the trends within the trend. It’s hard to tell for sure, but there’s strong indication that Chicago’s “tale of two cities” is quickening.

African-Americans continue to flee the city as they did in the last decade, when the black population dropped a stunning 17 percent, to 872,000. Now, though, Chicago’s white population seems to be on the rise. In fact, the total population of whites now may exceed that of blacks.

My information comes from Rob Paral, a well-known local demographer who runs consultancy Rob Paral & Associates on the North Side. He compared 2010 census data with figures from the 2014 American Community Survey, which also is conducted by the Census Bureau, after I asked him to take a look.

His findings: Chicago’s black population has dropped another 30,000, to about 842,000, plus or minus 10,000. But the non-Hispanic white population is up about 12,000, to an estimated 867,000. That’s within the 15,000 sampling margin of error, but just barely.

According to Paral, the city’s Asian-American population also is up about 18,000, while the number of Latinos (who can be any race) grew by 23,000.

I didn’t ask Paral to explain why this might be true. In an earlier interview, he mentioned the influx of young adults into the central part of the city and the possibility that white ethnic neighborhoods on the city’s periphery have quit aging (and dying off) as quickly. To that, I’d add the obvious: Chicago’s violence wave is mostly concentrated in black neighborhoods. Why would anyone voluntarily stay in a community in which they fear for their lives?


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