Change in population by “race” and Hispanic status, Chicago area, 2010-2011/2015

The Census Bureau released the 2011/2015 American Community Survey (ACS) tract-level data this week. I’ve used these data to map tract-level ethnic changes between 2010 and 2011/2015 for the Chicago area. These maps are comparable to the 2000-2010, 1990-2000, and 1980-1990 maps that I made while working at the University of Chicago Library’s Map Collection.

Note the following:

[1] ACS data are for five-year periods, not single years. The median year of 2011/2015 data would be 2013, and these maps can be thought of showing changes for an average of three years from 2010, but in fact (as confusing as this may be) they show changes between April 1 2010 and the 2011/2015 period.

[2] ACS data are not anything like as accurate as decennial census data or even the long-form data they replace. They are based on a sample, and it’s a much smaller sample than was used to compile the long-form data. The margins of error can be huge, especially for smaller numbers. Thus, at the tract level, these data are at best only rough approximations. The sample sizes are large enough so that general trends should be meaningful, but it’s perhaps best not to pay too much attention to the figures for individual census tracts.

[3] The “race” data for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic African-Americans, and non-Hispanic Asians and Pacific Islanders include only people who classified themselves as being of a single race. This includes the great majority of respondents for all years and probably does not alter the broad patterns at all. It’s possible, however, that including people who identified themselves as being “multiracial” would have affected the results for quite a number of tracts in the city of Chicago. The question of just how to apportion these data, however, is not one that has an obvious answer.

[4] The boundary of the city of Chicago is shown by a heavy black line. Freeways are shown in blue. Tract boundaries are shown in gray. The location of dots within tracts is random.

Some general conclusions:

The Chicago area gained very few people between 2010 and 2011/2015, but there were some noticeable changes in the distribution of its population by “race” and Hispanic status. Many distributional shifts continued those of earlier decades, but there were some (mostly) subtle changes as well.

[1] There continued to be a substantial increase in the number white people in the city of Chicago, especially in the area around the Loop and on the North and Northwest Sides. Older, formerly mostly white inner suburbs continued to lose some of their white population. Somewhat new: There was only a modest increase in white population in the outer suburbs. A factor here is surely that there just wasn’t that much outer-suburb greenfield construction in this post-recession period.

[2] Problem-ridden African-American neighborhoods like Englewood and North Lawndale continued to lose population. Healthier, mostly African-American neighborhoods like Bronzeville continued to gain population. There was also a gain in African-American population in many suburban areas and here and there in the city of Chicago. Hardly any part of the Chicago area is still nearly all white.

[3] Asian population declined in some of the Far North Side enclaves where Asians had concentrated in earlier decades, but it increased in some other tracts not far away. There was a continued growth of Asian population near the Loop and west of Chinatown—in Bridgeport and McKinley Park, for example—and, on an even larger scale, in many suburban areas, especially in the West and Northwest. But, except for Chinatown, no part of the Chicago area is nearly all Asian. Middle-class and wealthy Asians tend increasingly to live among white people of comparable economic status.

[4] A few gentrifying North Side neighborhoods lost Hispanic population, but Hispanic population grew substantially in a great many other places, for example, further north and west on the North Side and in many suburban areas.

Here is a set of maps for Chicago and vicinity:

Population change by “race” and Hispanic status, 2010-2011/2015, Chicago and vicinity.

And here’s a set of comparable maps for the Chicago region: 

Population change by “race” and Hispanic status, 2010-2011/2015, Chicago region.




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