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Southland cities growing more multiracial, USC report shows

March 1, 2012 | 11:30 am

A growing percentage of Southern California cities contain significant populations of at least two racial or ethnic groups, according to a new USC analysis of the region’s shifting makeup since 1990.


Nearly two-thirds of the municipalities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties were found to be multiracial in 2010, compared to just more than half the region’s cities in 1990. The report, an update of a 2001 USC study, used census data to examine the changing balances in each city of its black, white, Asian and Latino residents.

Overall, the five-county region saw major increases in its Latino and to a lesser extent, its Asian populations from 1990 to 2010. Over the same period, the percentages of white and black residents declined.

Latinos climbed from about a third of the region’s total population in 1990 to 45% in 2010 and Asians from about 9% to more than 13%.

Whites, in contrast, dropped from just under half the overall population to about a third during the period, and African Americans from 8% of the total to less than 7%. (The report did not include unincorporated areas.)

The trend was echoed in the city of Los Angeles, the region’s hulking metropolis of nearly 4 million, which has major populations of all four groups studied. Over the last two decades, Latino and Asian residents make up a greater percentage of the population and whites and blacks make up smaller slices.

"In our society, in this era, diversity is a norm," said Dowell Myers, a USC demography and urban planning professor who oversaw work on the report, "Racially Balanced Cities in Southern California, 1990 to 2010."

"It’s an advantage the Los Angeles area holds over places that are becoming diverse but aren’t there yet."

The researchers ranked cities on whether they were made up of one main racial or ethnic group, or had significant populations of two, three or all four of the groups studied. Ten cities in Los Angeles County, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest, had a balance of all four groups.

-- Rebecca Trounson