The integration of Southern California’s suburban communities continued apace into the second half of the decade, driven by steadily growing numbers of Latinos and Asians moving into middle-class neighborhoods, according to detailed census data released Monday.
Overall, the white population in the five-county region appears to have leveled off after a notable decline in the 1990s. Other groups continued to expand across the region, with the Asian population seeing the greatest increase. But Latinos are by far the largest ethnic group, totaling 7.7 million, compared with about 6.3 million non-Latino whites and 2 million Asians.
The new figures, averaging surveys from 2005 through 2007, offer a first look at population changes since the 2000 census. The numbers suggest the economic boom and robust housing market that peaked in late 2006 lifted many boats, helping change the ethnic complexion of cities across the income spectrum. The release of the data marks the beginning of an ambitious federal effort to replace the census’ former status as a once-a-decade survey with a running portrait of the nation as it changes.
Dowell Myers, USC professor of urban planning and demography, said the growing diversity in Southern California’s sprawling suburbs reflects a broad breakdown of past housing discrimination. The region includes Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
“Ethnic groups of all types are integrating into suburban neighborhoods. It’s the new normal,” Myers said. “It’s not about color and ethnicity in California anymore. It’s about economic upward mobility.”