Six southern US metro areas: part 2 – race, ethnicity, and country of origin

Today, I continue my look at six mid-sized cities around the southern portion of the Appalachian mountains. This post examines how the racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds of people in the area differ from the US as a whole. The results surprised me.

As a reminder (see yesterday’s post for more background), the six areas of interest are: the Chattanooga-Cleveland-Dalton, TN-GA combined statistical area, the Greenville-Anderson-Spartanburg, SC combined statistical area, the Asheville, NC center-based statistical area, the Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA combined statistical area, the Huntsville, AL center-based statistical area, and the Knoxville, TN center-based statistical area.

As in the previous post, the source for these results is 24 months of aggregated CPS microdata, covering January 2017 to December 2018.

Race and ethnicity

The first section compares the racial and ethnic makeup of each area to the national average. The racial and ethnic categories are defined in such as way as to not overlap and to cover the entire population: white only (non-Hispanic), black only (non-Hispanic), Asian only (non-Hispanic), Native American only (non-Hispanic), more than one race (non-Hispanic), and Hispanic (any race).

The black share of the population varies greatly by city, with Huntsville (19.7%) and Greenville (18.9%) well above the US average of 12.3%. The black share of the Chattanooga area is similar to that of the US as a whole. In contrast, the black share of the population in Asheville (9%), Knoxville (6%), and Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol (2.5%) is far below the national average. People in these areas are much more likely to be white than in other parts of the US, and particularly, in other parts of the south.

black

The Hispanic share of the population is more consistent across the six areas but is far below the nationwide average. In the US as a whole, 18.3% of the population is of Hispanic origin. Only 5% of the population of the six areas is Hispanic, with the largest Hispanic share of the population in the Greenville area (6.5%). The Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol area has the lowest Hispanic share of the population (3.1%).

Hispanic

The Asian share of the population in these six areas (2%) is also substantially below the nationwide average (6.1%), however, the Asian share of the population in the entire south region (3.9%), is also below the national average. The Asian share of the population in the Huntsville area (3.5%) is the highest among the six areas. Chattanooga (1.5%) and Asheville (1%) have the lowest Asian share of the population.

Asian

Changing concepts slightly, the share of children (under age 16) that are more than one race (and not of Hispanic origin) provides additional insight into each of these six areas. In this category the Greenville (5.9%) and Chattanooga (5.2%) areas are above the national average (4.2%). In contrast, the share of children with more than one race is particularly low in the Asheville area (0.8%).

More_than_one_race

Country of birth

Interestingly, the foreign born share of the population in these six areas (5.5%) is far below the national average (13.7%) and the average for the south region (12.7%). None of the six areas have even half the foreign born share of population in the US as a whole. Greenville has the largest share of its population born outside the US (6.5%), and Chattanooga (4%) has the lowest.

Foreign_born

Finally, I combined four years of microdata to get a sufficient sample for identifying individual countries of birth in each of the six areas. Even though people in the six areas are very likely to be born in the US, data suggests that there are significant communities of people born in certain countries in five of the six areas, relative to the overall US as a whole.

In Chattanooga, the Guatemalan born population is above the US-wide average. In Greenville, there is an above average Russian-born population. In Asheville, people are more likely to be born in Canada and the Philippines. Huntsville has a German- and Philippines-born population that exceeds the national average. Lastly, people in the Knoxville area are disproportionately likely to have be born in Sudan and Turkey.

The Jupyter notebook used for this analysis is here.

The next blog post will look at education levels and school enrollment.

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