Minorities dominant in Phoenix
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 22, 2006

Tucson also joins census list of cities where non-Anglos make up majority

Jon Kamman

Minorities are now in the majority in Phoenix and Tucson, census data reveal.

The state's two largest cities experienced dramatic growth of their minority populations from 2000 to 2005, and a leading demographer said Monday that they can expect more of the same.

"It represents the new wave of urban growth for the West," said William Frey, an authority on population and migration trends for the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution. "What used to be just a California experience is now spreading throughout the West."

Denver also ended 2005 with a minority population slightly larger than non-minorities.

With Phoenix, Tucson and Denver joining the ranks of minority-predominant cities, the list now includes 31 of the nation's largest 50 cities.

Among medium-size cities, Yuma and Avondale have had minority majorities since the 2000 census or earlier.

Valley professionals who deal with minority issues say that although minorities are not a homogeneous group, the new balance is good for communities in general.

"I hope people see it as a positive," said Conrado Gomez, an assistant clinical professor of education at Arizona State University Polytechnic.
"It's just the way things are going to be."

Anita Luera, vice president of the Valle Del Sol behavioral health center and director of its 20-year-old leadership-development program aimed at Hispanics, said there is little fundamental difference between the two populations.

"People shouldn't be afraid of it," Luera said. "Minorities are the same as majorities in wanting to have better lives, schools, education and safer communities."

Gomez said the heightened minority numbers will be felt mostly in two areas:
politics and education.

"More Hispanics and non-Whites will be going into politics. I hope people understand that's the American way," he said. Education will have to adjust, he added.

"What is studied in school also has to reflect that population so those students can see themselves in their studies," Gomez said.

"Minority" for statistical purposes means everyone except Whites who are not of Hispanic ancestry. This includes Native Americans, Blacks, Asians and Pacific Islanders, people who designate themselves "some other race" and the Hispanic ethnic group, regardless of race.

The latest figures are the product of a survey in which roughly one in every 40 households in the nation was contacted throughout 2005.

Although more than half of the residents within the city limits of Phoenix and Tucson are minorities, the predominance of Anglos in other communities gives Maricopa County a minority component of 38.8 percent and Pima County
41.9 percent.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan statistical area, which encompasses all Maricopa and Pinal counties, is 38.9 percent minority.

The Valley city with the smallest proportion of minorities is Scottsdale, with 14.3 percent.

Minorities are one-third or less of the populations of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Peoria, Surprise and Tempe.

Frey said that Arizona, more than other places, faces a sharp age difference in racial and ethnic components.

Minorities, with higher fertility rates, larger families and younger workers, are concentrated in the younger population, while many middle-age and senior residents are Anglos, he said.

"You have both a generation gap and cultural gap, so to speak," Frey said.

He said minorities who migrated en masse to California in the past decade, swelling its population to minority-majority status, are now heading inland, while more are coming to the West from other parts of this country and abroad.