Census: Greater Diversity Changes Face Of Massachusetts

By Sarah Birnbaum

Mar. 23, 2011

University of Massachusetts graduates Albert Daly Erik Parena and Elizabeth Pierre smile as they listen to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's 2006 commencement address. (AP)

BOSTON — The U.S. Census Bureau released population data for Massachusetts on Tuesday, revealing a distinct trend: The state’s communities of color are growing, while the white population is declining.

Over the past decade, the state’s Asian and Hispanic populations each grew by 46%, while the number of census respondents who identified themselves as black or of African descent grew by 26%.
The white population shrank slightly, but Massachusetts was still 80% white when the census was taken last year, compared to about 85% white in 2000.
Still, Massachusetts Sec. of State William Galvin says the numbers demonstrate that Massachusetts is becoming more racially and ethnically varied.
"We are a remarkably diverse state for our size, not just in terms of language,  but ethnic groups, and racial groups and countries of origin,” Galvin said.
Galvin, who notes that he’s not a demographer, says that a number of factors may be driving the changes, such as immigration and higher fertility rates, especially among Hispanics. 
Galvin also says that communities of color may be participating in the census more now than they have in the past.
“I think there’s been an increasing awareness among these groups. Over the past 10 years there’s been a significant increase in political activity by both Hispanics and Asians,” Galvin said.
Galvin says he hasn’t had an opportunity yet to analyse which cities and towns saw the greatest shifts in racial makeup.

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