AFRICANGLOBE – The African-American population in San Bernardino County, California dropped for the first time in memory between 2012 and 2013, and growth in Riverside County’s Black population was slower than in past years, newly released Census Bureau estimates show.
The Latino population in the two counties continued to grow steadily, increasing by nearly 40,000 people, to 2.14 million, or nearly half the Inland Empire’s population. The growth rate, though, is well below the increases before the recession.
The population estimates show a continuation of other trends as well: A growing number of Asians in both counties and a drop in the White population, the latter a phenomenon that goes back more than two decades in San Bernardino County and to 2012 in Riverside County.
Demographer William Frey said the Inland Empire’s struggling economy and high foreclosure rates, along with more stringent requirements for mortgages, likely help explain the population trends. In addition, for many years people have left the area — during good and bad economic times — because of a lower cost of living in states such as Arizona and Colorado, said Frey, a senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution.
The Census Bureau’s estimates of the population on July 1, 2013, were released late Wednesday and are based on information such as birth, death and tax records.
Riverside County’s African-American population inched upward by slightly more than 1 percent between 2012 and 2013, to more than 138,000. San Bernardino County’s Black population decreased half a percent, to 174,140.
That followed a near doubling of the region’s Black population between 1990 and 2010, when the Inland Empire was a magnet for African-Americans moving from Los Angeles County in search of more affordable housing.
The region’s Black population rose 43 percent in the 1990s and 24 percent in the 2000s.
The Rev. Raymond Turner, pastor of Temple Missionary Baptist Church, a mostly African-American congregation in San Bernardino, has seen a number of members leave the area in recent years. At first, it was primarily a migration to the South among middle-aged and older congregants, he said.
“Now I’m seeing a lot of people going to Vegas and Arizona,” he said. Most are young adults.
Turner said African-Americans are leaving the San Bernardino area in search of cheaper housing, more jobs and lower crime. Older residents without college degrees who 25 or 30 years ago earned solid middle-class wages at Norton Air Force Base, the Kaiser steel plant in nearby Fontana and railroad yards typically can find only low-paid work, if any at all, and younger African-Americans with college educations find fewer job opportunities in the Inland Empire than elsewhere, he said.
Most of the congregants who moved to the South have roots there, Turner said. They’re part of a nationwide trend of African-Americans leaving California and Northern cities for the South as the South’s race relations and economy improve.
Delores Armour was born in South Carolina, grew up in the Philadelphia area and lived as a young adult in New York. She moved to Riverside in 1988, but in 2007 she left for the Atlanta suburbs. She said she has met five other African-Americans there who also moved from Riverside County.
“Part of the reason is that people were able to sell their homes and buy bigger houses here,” Armour said.
By: David Olson
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