It is the Mexicans who have settled in
These are the folks mostly responsible for the continued rise in the city's population.
The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data confirms it. The Bureau recently reported that
It's good news for the city. After 50 years of decline,
Beneath these latest numbers lie...well, more numbers that help tell the story. Here are the fundamentals of population dynamics in
1. More immigrants with higher birth rates
The latest increase is due to two factors: the number of births outpacing the number of deaths and the arrival of foreign immigrants to offset the exodus of people from the city. To generalize, the people who are leaving tend to be those who can afford to -- middle-class folks -- and those who are arriving tend to be poor.
In the last 10 years, Latinos were the group that experienced the most growth. Between 2000 and 2010, Latino Philadelphia grew from 130,000 people to 180,000, a 45 percent increase. As a group, Latinos are the poorest in the city, with household incomes far below the city's average of $36,700 a year.
In the last 10 years, Asians ranked second in growth. They went from 68,000 in 2000 to 96,000 in 2010 -- a 43 percent increase.
The growth is due to two factors: continued migration of Latinos and Asians into the city and a high birth rate. According to the city Health Department, the birth rate among Latino women is the highest in the city -- 22.2 births per thousand women, compared to 9.5 births per thousand for white women. For Asian women, the figure is 15.5. These figures are for 2009, the latest available.
In that same year, according to the department, the top countries of origin for foreign-born mothers were
2. Fewer and fewer whites.
There has been a surge in white births in Center City, a trend that has gone hand-in-hand with the increase in population there, but white births citywide are declining: there were 37,000 white babies born in the five-year period beginning in 2000, but only 28,000 over the next five years. As mentioned, the birth rate among white women is the lowest among all racial/ethnic groups.
This is part of an overall trend in decline of whites in the city. They equaled 43 percent of the city's population in 2000 and 37 percent in 2010. The number of white Philadelphians declined 81,000 (-13%) during that 10-years period.
The decline was evident in every age group -- except for young adults. The number of whites aged 21 through 39 increased by 6,000 citywide during the decade. This is due mostly to the increase in the number of young adults in
3. Blacks at the tipping point.
The number of blacks remained virtually stagnant between 2000 and 2010. African Americans numbered 656,000 in 2000 and 662,000 in 2010. The black birth rate remained consistent (about 10,700 children born each year), but there is growing evidence of black flight from
One indicator is the number of blacks under the age of 21. It declined eight percent during the decade. The data suggests that younger black parents with children are departing the city for the suburbs once their child gets to school age.
In the period between 2000 and 2010, the black population appeared in to be equilibrium: blacks constituted 44 percent of the city's population in 2000 and 44 percent in 2010.
Will it remain the same or will it decline? Decline seems likely, though we won't know for sure until the 2020 census is done.
This is the story by the numbers. It is a story is change -- in ways no one could have foretold.
But, there is another way to see changing
When I took the walk there recently this is what I saw: a scrum of 10 Asian middle schoolers playing in the basketball courts at
This is not something you would have seen in this neighborhood 20 years ago.
But, this is not the
-- Tom Ferrick
Photos by Peter Tobia