February 5, 2011 | Progress Index | Original Article

Census shows increasing racial, ethnic diversity in Tri-Cities

Like the rest of Virginia and the nation as a whole, the Tri-Cities saw an increase in racial and ethnic diversity during the past decade, according to newly released results from last year's national head-count.

According to the Census Bureau's first glance at Virginia's 2010 numbers, the percentage of Tri-Cities residents counted as white fell from 69.3 percent in 2000 to 63.6 percent last year. Statewide, the white population also declined as a percentage of the total population, from 72.3 percent a decade ago to 68.6 percent in the latest count.

All other racial/ethnic Census categories increased their share of the local population over the decade: Black or African American residents rose to 27.8 percent from 25.7 percent, Asians increased to 2.7 percent of the population from 2.0 percent, "Some other race" rose to 2.9 percent from 1.3 percent, "Two or more races" climbed to 2.5 percent from 1.4 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native increased to 0.4 percent from 0.3 percent and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander rose to 0.08 percent from 0.05 percent.

Diversity also increased among the minority groups amid the overall rise in population. While African Americans remain the largest segment of the population after whites, their share of the total non-white population declined to 76.4 percent last year from 83.8 percent in 2000.

The "Some other race" category surged to claim second place among minorities locally at 8.0 percent of the non-white population, up from 4.1 percent in 2000, while Asians fell to No. 3 at 7.3 percent compared with 6.4 percent in 2000. The "Two or more races" category also saw a sharp increase to 7.0 percent of minority residents from 4.6 percent a decade earlier.

The number of Hispanic or Latino residents in the region - reported separately from racial affiliation by the Census Bureau - more than doubled, and the rate of increase was faster than for the state as a whole. The Hispanic population in the Tri-Cities totaled 28,966 last year, up 167 percent from 10,867 in 2000. Statewide, the Latino population rose 91.7 percent to 631,825 from 329,540.

Locally, by far the largest number of Latino residents, and the fastest rate of increase, were in Chesterfield County, which accounted for almost 80 percent of the region's Hispanic population last year at 22,864, up 200 percent from 10 years earlier.

Excluding Chesterfield, where the figures include residents of the heavily populated Richmond suburbs, the number of Hispanic residents in the Tri-Cities totaled 6,102 last year, up 88 percent from 3,250 in 2000.

Outside Chesterfield, Prince George County was home to the largest number of Latinos, 2,058 compared with 1,625 a decade ago. However, the county also posted the region's slowest growth rate in Hispanic population over the 10-year period, 27 percent, and its share of the total Latino population outside Chesterfield fell to 33.7 percent from 50 percent in 2000.

Among other noteworthy findings in the 2010 head count:

- Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights continue to have the highest percentage of white residents in the region, at 68.3 percent and 82.3 percent, respectively. Both, however, saw their white percentages decline significantly from 2000, when 76.7 percent of Chesterfield residents and 89.1 percent of Colonial Heights citizens were white. In fact, Colonial Heights saw a decline not only in the percentage of white residents but also in the actual number, from 15,052 in 2000 to 14,326 last year, a 5 percent decrease.

- The two localities with the lowest percentage of white residents, Petersburg and Hopewell, also saw declines in the number of white residents as well as decreases in the percentage of whites. In Hopewell, the number of white residents fell 10 percent to 12,515 from 13,924, and the white share of the total population dropped to 55.4 percent from 62.3 percent in 2000.

Petersburg, meanwhile, saw its white population fall 16.5 percent to 5,217 last year from 6,249 a decade earlier. White residents as a percentage of the total population fell to 16.1 percent from 18.5 percent in 2000.

- Petersburg was the only Tri-Cities locality to post an overall population decline for the decade, down 1,320, or 3.9 percent, to 32,420 from 33,740 in 2000. Chesterfield posted the biggest increase, 21.7 percent, and the region as a whole posted a 15.9 percent rise. Excluding Chesterfield, the region's population rose 4.3 percent during the decade, with Dinwiddie County recording the largest jump, up 14.1 percent to 28,001 from 24,533.

- Prince George overtook Petersburg as the most populous locality in the region after Chesterfield, with 35,725 residents, up 8.1 percent from 33,047 a decade ago. That number is likely to increase further as more expansion occurs at Fort Lee, which is located in the county.

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