Census shows rapid rate of minority growth in Md. Minority population growth outpaced whites in Maryland.

February 20, 1991|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,Evening Sun Staff

The number of minority residents in Maryland has grown more than three times as fast as the number of whites during the past decade, according to new data from the 1990 Census.

Minority growth is due in part to a large influx of Asians, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday. The state's Asian population has grown to more than 139,000, a 117 percent increase since 1980.

The release of the detailed state census data signals the start of the process by which states and local governments draw new congressional and legislative districts.

The racial and ethnic breakdowns, mandated by Congress, are critical because the drawing of district boundaries often determines the representation of these groups in Congress and in state and local government.

Maryland's overall minority population, which includes Asians, blacks, American Indians and others, has increased 31 percent since 1980. The actual minority population increased from 1.1 million people in 1980 to 1.4 million in 1990.

During the same period, the state's white population increased only 7.4 percent. Still, whites made up the majority of state residents -- about 3.4 million, compared with 3.2 million in 1980.

Maryland's minority population growth is probably typical of a nationwide trend and does not suggest the state is unique, said Ronald M. Kreitner, director of state planning.

"We see no major surprises in the numbers," he declared.

But Kreitner noted that the increase among Asian and Hispanic residents appears to be lower than projections made earlier by organizations representing the two minority groups.

In addition, he cautioned that the growth rate shown for Asian residents may be skewed slightly because of changes in census tabulation methods since 1980.

Overall, the state's population increased by about 13 percent to 4.8 million people. In addition to Asians, Maryland's black population increased 24 percent to 1.2 million.

The state's American Indian population increased by 62 percent to 12,972, although Kreitner said this increase may be the result of more Indians identifying themselves as such than in previous counts.

The number of Maryland residents calling themselves Hispanic nearly doubled in 10 years, from 64,746 in 1980 to 125,102 in 1990, census officials reported. Hispanic, however, is not a racial designation but includes anyone of Spanish origin, regardless of race.

In the Baltimore region, minority representation grew in all jurisdictions, while the number of whites declined only in the city and Baltimore County.

The proportion of blacks living in the suburbs increased dramatically in the region, outpacing the proportional growth among whites in all jurisdictions except Carroll County.

Blacks and other minorities accounted for all the population growth in Baltimore County. The county's black population has increased by almost 60 percent since 1980, from 53,000 to just over 85,000. Planning officials say this is a continuation of the exodus of Baltimore's black middle class to the suburbs that began in the early 1970s.

Conversely, the county's white population declined by about 12,270 people (2.1 percent), bringing the number of white residents to 578,898.

And while black families were moving to the suburbs at a faster rate than whites, Asian families were outdistancing all groups in choosing the suburban life.

In all suburban jurisdictions, the number of Asians increased by 60 percent or better. In Howard County, the Asian population rose 211 percent, from about 2,600 in 1980 to 8,100 in 1990.

Not unexpectedly, the number of whites living in the city declined over the past decade by about 59,000, a 17 percent decrease. Blacks in Baltimore showed a slight increase of about 5,000.

Locally, all other Baltimore area jurisdictions increased in population, with Howard County experiencing the most growth. Howard's population increased from 118,000 to more than 187,000, a 58 percent rise.

Baltimore's other outer suburbs also showed substantial growth: 28 percent in Carroll County and 25 percent in Harford County.

By way of contrast, the closer suburban communities grew more slowly, 15 percent in Anne Arundel County and only 6 percent in Baltimore County.

The data on racial breakdowns was presented in summary form to the media yesterday. Detailed data, released to state officials on computer tapes for redistricting, includes racial breakdowns within smaller geographical areas referred to as blocks.

The 1990 Census data also include, for the first time, racial breakdowns by voting-age population.

Kreitner said it will be another three to four weeks before the Census Bureau releases the computerized map files which will help state and local governments draw new district lines. It will take a month after that before the state is ready to help local jurisdictions.

In Baltimore, the City Council doesn't have that long. It will use the census numbers to amend a controversial redistricting plan proposed by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

The Schmoke plan, which would realign the city's six council districts, was developed using population projections. But council members want to ensure that the projections match the actual census count.

If the council does not amend Schmoke's plan by March 28, it will take effect automatically.

The General Assembly is unlikely to tackle reapportionment during its regular 90-day session. Gov. William Donald Schaefer has indicated he will call a special session in the fall to handle reapportionment of the Maryland's eight congressional districts and possibly the legislature itself. However, the General Assembly could conceivably wait until the 1992 session for its own redistricting.

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