Anglo youths now minority in the Valley
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 8, 2006
The kid next door in metro Phoenix is more likely now than ever to be an ethnic minority.

Latinos, Blacks, Asians and Native Americans make up the majority of people younger than 15 in Maricopa and Pinal counties, according to a study released Tuesday that analyzed minorities in urban areas across the United States.

If the trend continues, this group will make up the majority of ! all people in the county in less than a generation, making Anglos a minority, demographers said.

The unprecedented growth of Hispanics in the state will affect culture, language, classrooms and public-resource distribution.

Minorities younger than 15 in metro Phoenix make up about 52 percent of the population, according to the report.

Hispanics account for 41 percent; followed by Blacks with 4 percent; and Asian, Native American and multiracial youths with about 2 percent each.

Racial shift to have vast impact on Valley

Valley school principals, market experts and demographers for years have talked about a coming wave of young multicultural people.

Now, state and city officials, educators and social-service agencies will have to work harder than before to address competing interests of a generation of mostly minority youths and those of older Anglo residents, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Immigration from Mexico and ! Latin America, natural birth rates, a buzzing economy that has created jobs and thousands of transplants from coastal Western states are driving minority growth in metro Phoenix, said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer and author of the report.

"The implications are going to be (seen in) how the different institutions react to them . . . and what it means in the school, the public services," Frey said. "They have to be thought of as the future of the community. They deserve a lot of attention."

He analyzed Census Bureau population estimates from 1990, 2000 and 2004 for the study, "Diversity Spreads Out: Metropolitan Shifts in Hispanic, Asian and Black Populations Since 2000."

Minorities younger than 15 in Maricopa and Pinal counties make up about 52 percent of the population, according to the report. Hispanics account for 41 percent; followed by Blacks with 4 percent; and Asian, Native American and multiracial youths with about 2 percent ea! ch. Hispanics accounted for most of the area's growth between 2000 and 2004, making up 52 percent of new residents compared with 35 percent for Anglos. Overall, Hispanics in 2004 made up about 28 percent of metro Phoenix.

The report documents a shifting America. Latinos, Blacks and Asians are moving beyond areas they traditionally lived and into suburbs that were once largely Anglo, into more affordable cities and into fast-growing job centers in the West and Southeast.

Generally, Hispanics are moving from high-cost California areas to other parts of the West, including Phoenix and Las Vegas, mirroring the cities' fast growth rates. On the East Coast, Hispanics are moving from the megalopolises of New York, New Jersey and Boston to Southeastern areas such as Orlando.

About one-third of the nation's metro areas registered declines in Anglos, with the largest losses happening in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Phoenix, meanwhile, joins Atlanta, Was! hington, D.C., and Chicago as areas where most people 15 and younger are ethnic minorities.

"Arizona is in the crosshairs of all these populations," Frey said. "It's what happens when you have a growing, prosperous area. Our future is going to be with immigrants and diversity. They have to be thought of as the future of the community."

The Brookings study confirmed what some Valley demographers and Hispanic advocates have expected for some time. The question now, they said, is how educators and local leaders will react.

"We have to shift our paradigm of how we knew things and how we were comfortable with things, and look to embrace this new generation," said Louis Olivas, an assistant business professor at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business who studies the Hispanic market. "If we don't embrace, if we don't educate . . . the state of Arizona will lose economically, socially and politically."

Teachers, students and parents at McKemy ! Middle School in Tempe are accommodating to the increased ethnic diversity, Principal Ardie Sturdivant said. Minorities there, mostly Hispanics, make up about 61 percent of students. Anglos account for about 39 percent.

The diversity has caused some language and culture challenges at McKemy, but each group is trying to understand the other. McKemy teachers have taken state-required structured courses to help them better understand Native American, Hispanic, Asian and Black cultures. And each year, multicultural fairs teach students tolerance and acceptance of the others' traditions.

"Generally speaking, we've noticed we've had our challenges with the very diverse groups' needs and interests," Sturdivant said. "You have to deal with kids, with their dress, their vocabulary, (and not) just their culture, but where they come from, their ethnic background. What we're trying to do is narrow the gap and programmatically approach these challenges."

Luke Pitner's cir! cle of friends at McKemy are as diverse as those who attend the school. He represents the new generation's version of America, where young people tend to be more accepting.

"I like Black people, Mexican people, Asian people, White people," the 11-year-old said. "We're cool with each other."

Database reporter Ryan Konig contributed to this article.