Lowell demographics and the 2010 census

Today’s Globe had a very un-Globe-like headline (“Whites still abandoning cities in Mass) above a story on the just-released data from the 2010 census. The story reports that 43 of 45 large communities “saw declines in white population” and that fourteen of them — including Lowell — dropped by double digits. Here’s what I found when I compared the “Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race” table for Lowell from 2010 with the same one from 2000.

In 2000, Lowell had 105,167 residents. In 2010, it had 106,519, an increase of 1.3%

In 2000, Lowell had 65,760 “white” residents. In 2010, it had 56,280, a decrease of 14%.

In 2000, Lowell had 17,302 Asian residents. In 2010, it had 21,337, an increase of 23%.

In 2000, Lowell had 14,724 Latino residents. In 2010, it had 18,396, an increase of 25%.

In 2000, Lowell had 3644 “Black or African American” residents. In 2010, it had 6367, an increase of 75%.

Other categories (American Indian, Hawaiian, etc) were very small and not statistically significant.

There’s a lot to digest here so I’ll just leave it at that with related posts to follow in the coming days

3 Responses to Lowell demographics and the 2010 census

  1. jdayne says:

    Highly recommend clicking through the US census map on the front page of today’s (3-25-2011) New York Times. You can go from state to city to census area. The darker blue color that jumps out in Lowell is, essentially, downtown, where the population is up significantly over the prior census and, as it happens, much of this growth is white. This suggests that the transformation of unused or underused mill buildings into rental and condominium apartments has drawn new tax payers and new residents to downtown.

    I am hoping that in time the growing reputation of UML, the draw of its engineering/science programs for graduate students who morph their interests into new business development will show in a future census.

    The key to future health of the city, accepting the significance of UML and utilization of formerly underused/empty buildings is SIGNIFICANTLY the reputation and caliber of our public school system.

    “Middle class” families intent on family formation require public schools that deliver outcomes that ensure their children remain in the the middle class. Cities & towns with “bad” public schools (if reputation, only) experience middle class flight, depression of property values, deterioration of tax base and the entire spiral down.

    Lowell cannot afford to allow the public school system to solidify a deteriorated reputation. I am greatly troubled that so many City Councilors and other Lowell “luminaries” opt to sent their children to private schools. I am troubled that some folks take the attitude “my kids are through the system, let someone else pay”. Truly, everyone pays when a public school system fails its students, its staff and its city.

    Lastly, and entirely off point, but a sign of all the good progress that Lowell has been making, here’s to the City of Lowell being released from the state’s audit requirement. That and the higher bond rating (thus lowered borrowing cost) achieved by City in the last ~year are very, very good signs. Let us hope the citizens recognize that the next best move is to have a public school system that draws rather than repels new residents.

  2. Joe S says:

    When we look at the data we have a tendency to equate the”white” trend with the economic trend, and that is a bit troubling, although probably justified. The point on quality schools is an important factor in gradually erasing that tendency to make the connection. In addition to schools, I would rate reduced crime and increased cleanliness as key to economic growth, and those are not just the City government’s job..

  3. jdayne says:

    JoeS, I think you are correct on the “white” equation with economics although I expect time will prove it a flawed equation. One question I had for new Lowell friends when we moved here in 2007 was why much of the Belvidere section of the city seemed to be so homogeneous. Where, I asked, did the Cambodians or Brazilains or other more newly arrived residents go as they attained economic success? The response was that today’s successful immigrants, like many of yesterday’s, hoped to escape the City and looked to a Dracut or a Lexington (depending on degree of economic success) as the goal.

    It will be important that those who come to Lowell in one economic condition and prosper here start to see their future also in Lowell. Boston had the same out migration for decades until starting in the ~mid 1970s when, slowly, folks moved in for their first job (or other reason) and then with time many found they wanted to stay.

    Boston, however, is not a model of a successful public school system, except for a select few schools, but Boston’s mass and economic/job draw allow those with means to live in the city and use private schools. Lowell is unlikely ever to achieve that mass or draw, thus our public schools become critical to the City’s future.