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New mapping tool helps reporters zoom in on segregation

SHOWCASE | April 21, 2011

The Remapping Debate website's new maps focus on large metropolitan areas. In them, almost two-thirds of the people– more than 115 million out of almost 180 milion – live in areas of high racial segregation. That’s an improvement over a ten-year period, but not much of one.

By Craig Gurian

In the wake of Census 2010, media attention has focused on a slow trend toward less racial housing segregation over the last 10 years. But the data show that segregation in the United States is still pervasive – that most people live in highly segregated neighborhoods. My online news journal, Remapping Debate, now offers interactive maps, a useful tool for reporters, that show the extent of segregation. The maps are color-coded to highlight areas of very low and very high minority concentration.

Users can zoom down to the Census Block group level — the unit of geography intermediate between the larger “Census Tract” and the smaller “Census Block.”

The zooming function often shows that what may appear as substantial integration at large geographic levels masks often extreme segregation as one gets to the neighborhood level.

The mapping tool even permits the user to enter an individual address and zoom in accordingly.  When one highlights the information icon and then clicks on the map, the demographic information for the selected area is displayed.

Remapping Debate, based on 2000 and 2010 Census data, examined metropolitan areas that had African-American populations of at least 5 percent and overall population of 500,000 or more.

In 2000, approximately 69 percent of individuals who lived in the large metro areas described were living in areas of high segregation between non-Latino African-Americans and non-Latino whites, as measured by a dissimilarity index of 60 or above. In 2010, that percentage was approximately 65 percent.

That’s more than 115 million of the fewer than 180 million people who now live in those large metropolitan areas.

For more on this, see Remapping Debate’s full story and maps.


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