New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows increasing racial and ethnic diversity in Evanston.

The American Community Survey results from 2016 released last week show that the percentage of Evanstonians who are non-Hispanic whites fell from 60.2 percent in 2015 to 58.9 percent last year.

Meanwhile, the percentage of residents who are Hispanic rose from 10.5 percent to 11 percent.

The percentage of non-Hispanic black residents rose from 16.6 percent to 16.8 percent.

The percentage of Asian residents rose from 9.5 percent to 9.8 percent.

And the percentage of residents who identified as multiracial or members of some other race rose from 3.1 percent to 3.4 percent.

The city’s estimated total population fell slightly from 75,603 in 2015 to 75,472 in 2016, but that’s up from 73,880 in 2010.

The results for 2016 reverse a trend of declining non-Hispanic black population in the city. Blacks were 18.4 percent of city residents in 2010, but their share of the population had declined to 16.6 percent by 2015.

The proportion of city residents who are Hispanic or Asian has steadily increased since 2010. Hispanics were 8.8 percent of Evanston residents that year and Asians were 7.6 percent.

The percentage of residents who identify as members of some other race or multiracial has fluctuated so far this decade between 3.0 percent and 3.2 percent before hitting a new peak last year.

As indicated in their name, the ACS data is based on surveys of a sample of residents. The data can fluctuate modestly from year to year because of sampling errors. But it’s the most comprehensive data available between the decennial censuses.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. If that is true, then why—
    With all the NU faculty and staff, and I’d assume the hospital staff and businessmen, not to mention NU students and grads, is the Asian population so low ?
    A Chinese NU prof told me he and other professors don’t feel Evanston is safe or a good place to raise a family. I’m sure he could have added taxes.

    1. Perceptions of lower school quality an issue

      The relatively lower Asian population in Evanston could also be attributed to lower academic standards and perceptions of lower school quality in Evanston. 

      Over time Excellence has been sacrificed in favor of Equity in Evanston schools. Both Excellence and Equity can and should be mutually consistent but for those who have followed the school board proceedings over the last 5 years at both D202 & D65, it’s clear that political standards supercede educational standards.

      Here are some numbers to ponder – Asian students at Stevenson are 27.5%, Glenbrook South 19%, New Trier 7.4% and ETHS 5%.

  2. Graph and story

    I am having a lot of trouble reconciling the percentages in the text with the percentages in the graph.  Can you point me, for instance, to where I can see the 60.2 and 58.9 percent that is reported in the text on the graph?

    1. Graph

      As the label on the horizontal axis of the graph indicates, it displays “Population in thousands,” not percentages.

      To avoid having the labels overlap (and become unreadable), the graph also omits data for the “Other” category.

      — Bill

  3. Let’s Read the data correctly.

    Bill Smith’s has promoted a false notion of diversity in Evanston. The evidence from American Community Survey (ACS) does not show that there has been an improvement in diversity between 2015 and 2016.

    As the article admits in the last paragraph, data “can fluctuate modestly from year to year because of sampling errors”.  In layman’s terms, this means that the demographic characteristics of the respondents to the survey may only partially represent the characteristics of the population as a whole.  Because the ACS is only a partial survey, there can be large error margins, meaning the data may inaccurately reflect some of the fluctuations that occur year to year, or may actually miss some of them, casting doubt on the validity of the data for analyzing these trends.

    Fortunately, the Census provides error margins for the ACS data it collects, which show the extent to which the actual value of the data is different from the data collected.  The decline in the White population of 1,077 from 2015 to 2016 has a margin of error of 1,088, larger than the change in the data, while the error margin for the Black population, at 870, is much larger than the growth in the Black population of 84, with the same thing happening for the Asian and Hispanic population.  Clearly, with such large error margins, these data cannot be used to measure changes in diversity.

    Essentially, with such small changes in population in most categories between 2015 and 2016, and such large sampling error, the data is not only inconclusive on changes in diversity, but may actually be showing the opposite of the changes that are actually occurring. 

    Rather than using one year of ACS data to analyze such an important and sensitive issue, it’s far better to look at trends over 5 to 10 years, or better still, changes in the Census itself, which occurs every ten years and is a 100% sample. Using ACS data over a 10 year period we see a decline in the Black population of nearly 8%.

    Diversity is very important to the character of Evanston. Let’s be careful to understand the data before we come to any misleading conclusions in print.

    1. Yes, let’s read it correctly

      Hi Clare,

      It is you who are promoting a false notion of diversity.

      You argue that only the black population counts in measuring diversity.

      That is false. The increase in Asian and Hispanic residents in Evanston since 2000 and 2010 has far exceeded the decline in the black population during that period.

      Any plausible understanding of diversity in a predominantly non-Hispanic white community has to account for the total minority population and the diversity within that minority population — as my story does.

      In addition you fail to acknowledge that the changes in the population estimates provided by the American Community Survey, when you look back to the start of the survey period in 2010, do exceed the margin of error for three of the four population groups involved.

      Your falsehoods do nothing to promote a responsible discussion of important community issues.

      The best data available shows that Evanston is becoming more, not less, racially and ethnically diverse.

      — Bill

      1. Diversity?

        Well, I think it was made clear about diversity in the above post from Clare Kelly.  Clearly, you are omitting that there is one group that is declining in Evanston.

        “Using ACS data over a 10 year period we see a decline in the Black population of nearly 8%.”

        Is there a concern here about that?

        1. Declining

          Hi Trisha,

          Actually you’re wrong. There are two groups, not one, that are declining in population in Evanston.

          Those groups are blacks and non-Hispanic whites.

          Here are the numbers from the Census Bureau:

          Declining groups 2000 2010 2016
          Non-Hispanic white 46,444 45,868 44,464
          Black 16,704 13,733 13,000

          Given that the population of Hispanics and Asians has been growing fairly rapidly and the overall population of Evanston has been growing only very slowly, it is impossible to have growth in some groups without a decline in others.

          Unless we have more overall population growth — through new construction — the increase in some minority populations has to be accompanied by a decline in the representation of other groups.

          Do you wish to attempt to deter Hispanics and Asians from moving here? Or would you like to accelerate the departure of whites? What’s your preference, if you are upset about the declining black population but are also opposed to substantial new construction?

          — Bill

          1. I cannot see the forest for all the trees!

            Why is this issue of diversity so important?  Last I heard we are all Human Beings.  I admit I’m old, but am I that old that I am missing the point of these discussions?

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