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By the Numbers: Black Flight in the S.F. Bay Area

  • There were 480,000 African Americans living in the Bay Area’s nine counties, accounting for 6.7 percent of the area residents.
  • The three counties with the largest share of African Americans were, Alameda (190,000), Contra Costa (97,000), and Solano (60,000), which accounted for nearly three-quarters of all African Americans living in the Bay Area.
  • The three counties with the smallest African American populations were, Napa (2,600), Marin (7,000), and Sonoma (7,600).
  • Only two counties had African Americans making up more than 10 percent of their total population: Alameda (12.6 percent) and Solano (14.7 percent).
  • Income Levels for African Americans
  • The median household income for African Americans in the nine counties was $48,000.
  • The lowest median household income reported was in San Francisco County ($29,000), followed by Alameda County ($38,000).
  • The highest median household income for African Americans was in Solano County ($60,000), followed by Sonoma County ($58,000).
  • Counties with the lowest median household income had the largest percentage decrease in their African American population since the 2000 census.
  • African American Transit Ridership
  • On average, 14 percent of the Bay Area’s African Americans used public transportation to get to and from their jobs.
  • Transit ridership was the highest in San Francisco County (39.9 percent), followed by Alameda (15 percent) and Contra Costa (12 percent) counties.
  • Transit ridership was the lowest in Santa Clara County (2 percent), followed by Solano (3.5 percent) and San Mateo (7 percent) counties.
  • Counties with the largest percentage increase in their African American population also showed the lowest transit ridership.
  • Black Flight Between 2000 and 2010
  • Overall, African American populations in the nine Bay Area counties decreased by 30,000 or 5.8 percent since the 2000 census.
  • Five out of the nine counties—Santa Clara, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo, and San Francisco—showed a decrease in their African American populations.
  • Three counties showed the largest percentage decrease in African Americans even as they showed an overall increase in populations. They were San Francisco (-19.2 percent; +3.7 percent), San Mateo (-17.7 percent; +1.6 percent), and Alameda (-11.7 percent; +4.6 percent).
  • Alameda County had the highest absolute drop in the numbers of African Americans (-25,000), followed by San Francisco (-11,000), and San Mateo (-4,000) counties.
  • The four counties with the smallest percentage growth in population over the last 10 years—San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and Alameda—were also the counties with the largest decrease in their African American populations.
  • Black In-Flight Between 2000 and 2010
  • Three of the four Bay Area counties with the largest percentage growth in overall population also had the largest percentage increase in their African American populations: Napa (+62 percent); Sonoma (+16.7 percent); and Contra Costa (+9.4 percent).
  • The three counties showing the largest absolute growth in the numbers of African Americans were: Contra Costa (+8,300), Solano (+1,900), and Sonoma (+1,000).
  • The four counties—Napa, Solano, Sonoma, and Contra Costa—showing an increase in their African American populations were primarily suburban or rural.
  • The counties with the highest percentage growth in their African American populations also had the highest median household income and lowest transit ridership in the region. Conversely, counties with the largest percent decrease in African Americans had the lowest median household income and highest transit ridership. 
Frank Lopez is Urban Habitat’s Social Equity Caucus coordinator.

 

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