Among the 10 fastest growing cities in the United States, Austin was the only one to experience a decline in its African American population between2000 and 2010, according to a new policy report from the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis (IUPRA) at The University of Texas at Austin.
Drawing on U.S. Census data from 2000 and 2010, the report reveals that despite Austin's total population growth rate of 20.4 percent (third fastest of any major U.S. city during that decade), the city experienced a net loss in its African American population.
According to the analysis, the city's African American population dropped from 64,259 in 2000 to 60,760 in 2010, amounting to a -5.4 percent decline. During this decade,Austin was the only major city in the United States to experience a double-digit rate of general population growth coincident with African-American population decline.
"Every city in the nation with growth comparable to that of Austin's -- even cities with only half of Austin's growth rate -- saw a simultaneous increase in its African-American population," says King Davis, director of IUPRA and professor of African and African Diaspora Studies. "Only in Austin was the opposite true."
The brief points to lingering structural inequalities that disproportionately impact African Americans in Austin: the legacy of segregation, the intensification of gentrification and inequalities in policing and public education.
"These population trends certainly do not square with Austin's reputation as a tolerant city, a liberal city," says Eric Tang, IUPRA faculty fellow and lead author of the study.
The findings also reveal:
- African Americans were the only declining ethnic group in Austin's general population. Whites, Latinos and Asian Americans were all on the rise during 2000 to 2010.
- Other major cities, such as New York, San Jose, Baltimore and San Diego, experienced African American population declines during this decade. However, none of these cities had growth rates comparable to Austin.
- Fort Worth, El Paso and San Antonio experienced double-digit general population growth similar to Austin. Yet unlike Austin, all three of these cities alsoexperienced simultaneous double-digit general population growth in African Americans.
Tang also examined a variety of factors that played a partial role in Austin's net loss in its African American population during a decade in which every other racial group grew in size. He urges policymakers and city officials to take a closer look at structural inequalities within the city.
"There is no single explanation for the decline in Austin's African-American population between 2000 and 2010," says Tang, who is an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies. "The goal of this issues brief, and the future installments of this series, is to bring to light the multiple and embedded factors that have contributed to this decline. This is our first step towards proposing meaningful policy recommendations."
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