NEWARK -- For the first time in its history, census figures show that the largest number of residents in the city are Latino.

Latinos make up 35.2 percent of Newark's population, compared with 28.6 percent in 2000, when whites were the largest group.

No more.

According to 2010 census figures released last week, whites make up 27.5 percent -- down from 40.3 a decade ago.

Asians grew from 21.1 percent to 26.8, and blacks, reflecting a statewide trend of moving from the cities to the suburbs, grew slightly from 3.9 percent to 4.5.

The census numbers mostly reflect the changing demographics of the state and Alameda County.

"Diversity is here, there's no question about that," Mayor Dave Smith said. "Let's celebrate that, and build upon it."

When Smith first became mayor in 1978, Newark's residents numbered around 30,000. Today, the city's total population is 42,573 -- barely an increase of 100 people from a decade ago.

That lack of citywide growth surprised the mayor.

"I believe the count, but I'm just surprised that it's not more in line with the interim counts and I've generally seen the number inching higher," he said.

Smith said that, by design, Newark leaders have sough to attract businesses to boost tax revenue.

"We haven't built much in the way of housing this decade," Smith said. "By design, we tried to grow commercially instead of residentially."

The new census figures brought few surprises, said Kevin Harrigan, superintendent of Newark schools.

The school district's demographics reflect those of the city's changing figures, as well as the county's, he said.

"We've been implementing programs in response to that for the last seven years or more," he said.