Multi-ethnic Maryland

February 21, 1991

The most recent Census Bureau breakdown of U.S. population changes show that Maryland is becoming both more multi-ethnic and more suburban. Half of the state's 13.4 percent overall increase in population was due to growth in the black population, which rose by nearly a quarter over the past decade. Spurred by an influx of middle-class blacks into the Washington suburbs, the District's loss appears to be Maryland's gain. Meanwhile, Maryland's Asian population shot up by more than 117 percent and the number of Hispanics nearly doubled. Among these groups, too, the biggest increases occurred in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

In all, minorities now make up more than a quarter of the state's population of 4.78 million, with blacks by far the largest group, at 24 percent. Blacks made up 59.2 percent of Baltimore city's population. For the first time, blacks constitute a majority in Prince George's County, up from 37 percent in 1980 to 50.7 percent in 1990. Statewide, Asians make up just under 3 percent of the total, while Hispanics are 2.6 percent.

Even more striking are the geographic shifts revealed by the census. While Baltimore city and neighboring Washington, D.C., grew hardly at all, the suburbs saw a virtual explosion in population. The trend of minorities moving from city to nearby suburbs was counterbalanced by a movement of suburban whites to exurbs on the Eastern Shore and in Southern and Western Maryland. Those areas are now likely to see the same kinds of battles over growth and development in the 1990s as occurred in the metropolitan counties during the decade just past.

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