Federal census: decline in S.F. population

San Francisco saw a 4 percent drop in its population since 2000, according to new federal census data — with The City’s black population seeing the biggest decrease in numbers.

From 2000 to 2006, San Francisco’s black population decreased by 15 percent, from 62,782 to 53,234, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The City’s nonwhite Hispanic population went down from 98,530 to 93,115 — a 5 percent dip. Even the Asian population saw a 2 percent decline — from 242,776 to 238,783 — although the racial group’s percentage within The City’s overall population increased.

San Francisco’s declining population has been the subject of ongoing debate, with family advocates pointing to census data that reveal that the average household size in The City is shrinking as families flee to bigger houses, safer neighborhoods and better-performing schools in the suburbs. The population decrease in San Francisco — from 776,733 to 744,041 — can also be attributed to the rise and fall of the dot-com era, according to business analysts. The City’s current population is closer to the number counted by the federal census takers in 1996: 735,315.

San Francisco’s population data mirrors a trend tracked nationally by the U.S. Census Bureau: it’s one of 300 counties in the nation where racial minority groups — added together — now make up the majority. In The City, 45 percent of the population identified themselves as white only.

Los Angeles had the largest minority population in the U.S. in 2006, with 71 percent of its total residents belonging to a minority subgroup.

Los Angeles County also had the largest Asian population in the country in 2006 — 1.4 million — although San Francisco holds the title of having the largest percentage of Asians within the continental United States, 34 percent to 32 percent for L.A. County.

N’Tanya Lee, executive director of Coleman Advocates, a San Francisco-based family-focused nonprofit, said The City should do more to keep African-American families from leaving.

“What we’re seeing every day is African-American families making the tough decision to leave their homes, where they grew up, where they have roots and extended families,” said Lee. “One of the reasons people say they’re leaving is: ‘Why should they live in a city that’s so expensive if they’re going to face the trauma of murders in their community every week?’”

beslinger@examiner.com


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