Minorities Have Dominated Millennial Urban Growth

Despite the impression that young white people have reshaped cities' demographics, research shows that non-white Millennials account for the greater part of that growth.

2 minute read

March 1, 2018, 7:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Uptown Oakland

cdrin / Shutterstock

In the midst of a debate over "Millennial exodus" from urban cores, William H. Frey points out that the common image of the white Millennial gentrifier doesn't give the whole picture. To begin with, "nearly three-fifths of millennials residing in core urban counties are racial minorities, where more than a quarter are Hispanic, 18 percent are black, and the rest other races."

Moreover, minorities dominate recent urban growth among young adults. "While white millennial gentrification is often cited as a source of youthful urban change, racial minorities were clearly major drivers of young adult growth in all urban and suburban categories in the first half of the decade." In areas closer to the urban core, the trend is even more pronounced. 

Looking at the nation's 100 largest metro areas, Frey reports that "Thirty of these areas are 'minority white,' including Miami at 25 percent white and Houston at 32 percent. Several California areas (Los Angeles, Riverside, San Jose, Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield) are less than one-third white. Other notable metropolitan areas where whites constitute a minority of millennials are New York City, Atlanta, and Chicago."

"Of the 99 metropolitan areas in which young adult populations grew between 2010-2015 (Birmingham, Ala. took a loss), minorities contributed to more than three quarters of that growth in 51 of them and more than half of the growth in all but 11 of those areas."

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