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Census estimate: D.C. black population still shrinking

The District has continued to lose African American residents, according to new census estimates released Thursday, while the number of whites and every other census-tracked minority has risen.

The city remains a majority African American city, though the numbers and percentage slipped in every year between 2000 and 2008. About 54 percent of the city is African American and 40 percent is white, the census figures show. At the beginning of the decade, the city was 61 percent black and 34 percent white.

In raw numbers, the District lost about 27,000 black residents and gained about 40,000 whites. Asians now are 4 percent of the population, up from 3 percent in 2000, while Hispanics have risen from about 8 percent to 9 percent. There also were increases in the number of Native Americans and Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, through the actual numbers and the percentage increases were both very small.

If the trend continues, some demographers have predicted that the District could cease being a majority African American city by 2020. Its current population is now estimated to be about 600,000, a number that increased in almost every year of the past decade. Washington now has its highest population since 1991.

The population estimates are based on a number of government records, including income tax returns, Medicare, military service, deaths and births. A more precise figure will be available this year with the 2010 Census.

By Carol A. Morello  |  January 7, 2010; 1:47 PM ET
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So our city is becoming more diverse all around. That's a good thing!

Posted by: crzytwnman | January 7, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm Black and I don't have a problem with DC's shrinking Black population. Maybe the ones leaving are doing so because they found a better place to live. I'm not so much concerned about the race of my neighbor. I'm more concerned about the quality of the person. Are they good productive citizens?

Posted by: aspe4 | January 7, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

With the advent of Negro on the US census form for 2110, it is suspected that the use of African American has prompted a backlash. Stick with black, all blacks are not Africans anyway. If white is still white, black is still black, let the individuals, biracial, mixed racial, multiracial, black, etc. decide what ethnicity they are. The AA misnomer label does not fit all.

Posted by: lltroy | January 7, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

census form should read 2010

Posted by: lltroy | January 7, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused... 54% AA + 40% white + 4% Asian + 9% Hispanic + X% other = ~107% My assumption is that Hispanic is split between both AA and white, maybe? How are biracial children reported?

Posted by: andrewkk | January 7, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the city was majority black prior to 1968, correct? Previously, when it had many more people, DC was technically majority white though it was almost 50/50, as far as I know. The riots and subsequent decade of decay led to the much discussed white flight, and thus of the 6 - 9 million people in the DC area, only 600,000 live within DC. So maybe DC is just slowly getting back to where it was, prior to its own destruction.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | January 7, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Hispanics can be of any race, as it's counted as an "ethnicity" in the census. You can pick a race and and Hispanic, or (I think) just Hispanic.

Posted by: awiseman1 | January 7, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The city was roughly 70% black in 1990, down to 61% in 2000 and now down to near 50% for those interested in the numbers.

Posted by: dc1020008 | January 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

New demographics are great advances for DC and do not forget it. Too bad we are labeled WARD 9 in PG County, Md. I know why no ballers or celebrities reside here, too many welfare cheats, racist white folk and preachers ruining the landscape with mega churches.

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | January 7, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think the city was majority black prior to 1968, correct?"

no - you're wrong - according to the US History Encyclopedia, DC was both majority black and accounted for less than 1/2 of the Metro area population by 1957. Nothing to do with the riots and lot to do with demographic trends (the post-war baby boom), the proliferation of government programs that subsidized and encouraged suburban growth, and prevailing levels of economic wealth (those who could afford to buy a car and a house and move out to the suburbs to raise their new families did, and they were mainly white, and those who were too poor had to stay up, who were mainly black). The "white flight" was well established way before the riots even though you're trying to make the one the cause of the other - it just isn't so.

Posted by: hohandy1 | January 7, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

O.K., thanks for letting us know.

Posted by: Beingsensible | January 7, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

No one should be surprised at the shrinking Black population of DC. "Gentrification" as "they" call it, has displaced those Blacks who have "left the city." At least not of their own will - many areas once resided in by the DC Black populous have been "rehabed" and priced so astronomically that only whites can only afford them. Add to that the last mayor - Anthony Williams - who oversaw and endorsed the displacement of the black population and no one should be surprised at this end result. Whats surprising is that the post is printing this with a "gasp - our readers are surprised!", and "good news" under tone.

Posted by: rkayblock1 | January 7, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Blacks move out of DC; whites move in; murder rate plummets to 40-year record low.

Any connection?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | January 7, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Don't know where you're reading either surprise or cheering, rkayblock1. We've reported on this before and use the word "still" in the headline, so it certainly wasn't surprising to us. And the post is pretty much 100 percent hard data, with the analysis left to the readers. (And the commenters here seem to be doing a pretty good job of that -- thanks!)

Christopher Dean Hopkins
Deputy Editor, Local Politics and Government

Posted by: Christopher Dean Hopkins | January 7, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Connection; you are a stupid racist.

Posted by: Theone9 | January 7, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

they should have a category for homosexuals and lesbians in the District.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | January 7, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

"I'm more concerned about the quality of the person. Are they good productive citizens?"

I agree with you 100%! That's why I wish my neighbors, who have lived here for 40+ years, would move the heck out! The only productive ability I can see is that they sell drugs really well, spit at the drop of a dime and are able to litter with the snap of a finger. It's unreal! Got to love diversity!

Posted by: joejack65 | January 7, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

DC is a great city in much revival in many sectors. It's good that population is up and middle income people are moving in, it increases that tax base for all. Daytime population in DC swells to nearly double of resident population. I moved into DC to escape the madness of commuting to my job downtown, what once was 3+ hours a day now is 30 minutes, effectively regaining 2 1/2 hours a day of my life and opportunity to lose 60 lbs to regain better health. Who needs and can really afford the surburban Culdesac McMansion 30 miles away from the city? Been there done that. I enjoy living in DC.

Posted by: CapHillResII | January 7, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Although this is not "new news", the blatant disdain for African-American residents as captured by the comments on this board is "news" - at least that our white co-residents are no longer afraid to make clear that they would rather this NOT be a majority black city.

But, the fact of that disdain has been a fact of life for some time - it's now just more blatant. Numerous more intellectually rigorous studies than the comments on this board conclude that when more than 20% of a population is black, whites perceive that to be a 50/50 split ethnically/ racially.

Let me let some of our white friends in on a little secret (and Post editors - please take note): the more hostile you become toward black residents - and their concerns - the more the "good black people" you may want to be present (but not socialize with) will leave. This former Chocolate City is becoming less welcoming to the concerns of middle-class black people (witness Michelle Rhee's pandering to white parents' desires) and as such, more are choosing to make the suburbs their home. This has been a trend since the 1970's. With attitudes like the ones expressed here driving policy makers (or feathering their campaign coffers) - why would any self-respecting black middle class or professional class person stay in the city - especially if they have kids. Expect these trends to continue.

Posted by: dcresident21 | January 7, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Andrewkk. The percentages don't add up.

Posted by: jake77 | January 8, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

This is not newsworthy. As has already been posted, this is what happens with gentrification. This story is nothing more than the Post's "all-call" to non-black residents that the coast is still clear.

Posted by: Is_this_thing_on | January 8, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"many areas once resided in by the DC Black populous have been "rehabed" and priced so astronomically that only whites can only afford them."

Real estate is an auction. Real estate is sold to the highest bidder. Someone who believes in "the plan" please explain how something could be priced so high (and I'm seeing houses in Petworth selling for $250k right now) that African-Americans cannot afford them. I see African Americans buying very large and expensive houses in PG County in record numbers. I know of three African-American families who have just done that. I also know of two African-American widows who sold homes in DC for $700k and $800k. African-Americans are selling their DC homes for very good money.

Posted by: bbcrock | January 8, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

This former Chocolate City is becoming less welcoming to the concerns of middle-class black people (witness Michelle Rhee's pandering to white parents' desires) and as such, more are choosing to make the suburbs their home
What an insane comment.
1. Why would someone with a pro-African American attitude claim that improving the education for African-American students "panders" to "white parents' desires." ??? I completely repudiate your anti-black agenda! Black parents at my son's school LOVE MICHELLE RHEE because she is finally treating their children with respect and expecting them to be as smart as white kids in Montgomery County.
2. Since when is any DC suburb considered more open to ethnic diversity than DC itself? Prince Georges County police. Potomac, MD Country Club. Prince William County Sheriff's Office. Just run these words around in your head and what are your immediate, subconscious thoughts about them? Then give me your subconscious impression of the phrase "Howard University?"

what a loon!

Posted by: bbcrock | January 8, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

NPR/WAMU had a story recently about how while DC's black population shrinks, unlikely places such as Woodbridge Virginia have become burgeoning beacons of black families wanting to leave the inner city. They also hinted at, without saying, that black families wanting a better life for their children, choose Virginia for the better schools over PG County. That is not my opinion, just something that I felt was inferred in the news story. As a Hispanic/Latino, we can be of all races, it's only been recently that choices such as White/Hispanic, Black/NonHispanic, etc, have been available on surveys and demographic questionnaires.

Posted by: rburgos617 | January 8, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

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