Census: JP gets whiter

April 15, 2011
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Jamaica Plain became majority white in the last 10 years, with neighborhoods the non-Hispanic white population growing from 50 to 53 percent, while the Latino and African-American populations shrank, according to a US Census data analysis released by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) last month.

What is more, a Gazette analysis found significant shifts in where people are living in the neighborhood: White people are now the largest population group on the JP side of Egleston Square, and there have been significant drops in the Latino and African-American populations in other parts of northern JP, including the Hyde Square area.

Almost every tract in JP experienced an increase in white population, the analysis shows.

The BRA analysis sheds some light on population trends in the neighborhood that had previously been hidden because the BRA had, until this year, used a faulty map for its neighborhood census data analyses. BRA analysts released 2010 data and recalculated 2000 data based on a new, more accurate map this year.

While the map is much better, it excludes all of Franklin Park—which 338 people count as home, according to census numbers—from JP.

According to the BRA analysis, the neighborhood’s population shrank by 708 people or 1.9 percent, to 37,468.

The number of non-Hispanic white people in JP rose by 1,001, from 19,039 to 20,070. But that population gain was offset by drops in the neighborhood’s African-American population, which shrank by 862 to 5,038, and Latino population, which shrank by 1,041 to 9,464.

JP’s white population now accounts for 53 percent of the overall population, up from 50 percent; African-Americans account for 13.4 percent, down from 15.5 percent; and Latinos account for 25 percent, down from 27.5 percent.

The neighborhood’s Asian population grew slightly, from 1,521 in 2000 to 1,665 in 2010. The population of people identifying as some other race/ethnicity grew by 54 to 206. JP’s population of people identifying as two or more races or ethnicities grew by 19 to 958. And there were small increases in the neighborhood’s populations of Pacific Islanders and Native Amercians/Alaska Natives, though both of those populations remain under 200.

And JP as a whole got older: Even as the overall population shrank slightly, the population of people over 18 grew from 30,681 to 31,141.

As the Gazette previously reported, an interactive map on the New York Times web site showing population changes by census tract between 2000 and 2010 indicates there have been significant demographic shifts in JP.

Census tracts are small geographic areas used by the US Census Bureau, and do not line up to neighborhood boundaries. That makes it particularly hard to calculate JP changes by census tract at the neighborhood’s borders. For example, most of the tracts that include southeastern JP, the Forest Hills Station Area and the Woodbourne neighborhood lost over 10 percent and as much as 30 percent of their populations. But those tracts all include parts of other neighborhoods—Mattapan, Hyde Park and Roslindale.

The only increases in tracts in that area were a 3 percent increase in the Latino population in the tract that includes the Forest Hills Station Area, and an overall increase in the tract that includes Woodbourne south of Walk Hill Road.

In that 2,405-person tract south of Walk Hill, a 20 percent drop in the white population was offset by a 37 percent increase in the African-American population and a 17 percent jump in the Latino population. That tract is now 60 percent people of color.

Every tract in JP north of the Arborway saw an increase in white population.

Tracts including sections of JP north of the Arborway and between the Southwest Corridor Park and Franklin Park heading into Egleston Square, saw slight population declines—between 1 and 4 percent. In all of those tracts, the white population increased while minority populations shrank.

Most strikingly, the northernmost of those three tracts—which includes the Parkside neighborhood and Egleston Square south of the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Washington Street—shrank by 1.8 percent, despite a 49 percent increase in the white population. That tract saw a 23 percent drop in the African-American population and a 24 percent drop in the Latino population.

Those changes mean the largest race/ethnicity in the area, which was Latinos in 2000, is now white people. The white population grew in that 4,795-person tract from about 939 to 1,918. The Latino population fell from 2,259 to 1,822. The black population shrank from about 943 to 767.

Some other tracts that cover areas in and around Hyde and Jackson Squares had similar shifts, with increases in the white population and decreases in the Latino and African-American populations. None of those shifts made a new group the largest, but three tracts around Hyde Square saw 25 to 39 percent drops in their Latino populations.

Latinos became the majority in one tract bounded by Day Street, Heath Street Columbus Avenue and Centre Street, and including the Bromley-Heath housing development. That tract saw a 50 percent increase in its white population, bringing that that population’s share of the 3,265-person tract up to 12 percent, and a 14 percent increase in the number of Latino people, bringing that population’s share up to 53 percent. The African-American population in that tract shrank by 6 percent, meaning African-Americans now account for 29 percent of the population.

Already over 75 percent white, tracts south of Hyde Square and east of the Southwest Corridor—including Sumner Hill, Central JP and the Jamaica Pond and Moss Hill areas—experienced slim population growth as white populations rose slightly and minority populations fell slightly.