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articles about “Diversity

Merry Christmas, Knoxville! Happy Holidays, New York! Visualization Preview

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Merry Christmas, Knoxville! Happy Holidays, New York!

America’s largest non-Christian religious minorities tend to live in bigger, more expensive metros. As a share of the total metro population, New York has the most Jews; Chicago and Detroit have the most Muslims; San Jose has the most Hindus; and Honolulu has the most Buddhists.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
December 20, 2012

Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year for most Americans. It also stands out as the only federal holiday with religious origins: all other federal holidays commemorate events or people in American history or mark the start of the secular calendar. America is a predominately Christian country: 76% of adults identify as Christian, only 4% identify with a non-Christian faith, and the remaining 20% either identify with no religion or declined to answer (American Religion Identification Survey, 2008). But for America’s largest non-Christian religious minorities–Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists–Christmas has a different meaning. To be sure, many Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists join Christian friends and family in Christmas celebrations. Others create alternative traditions: Chinese restaurants and movies are packed on Christmas, for instance, and the Society of Young Jewish Professionals organizes annual “MatzoBall” parties on Christmas Eve in several cities.

In honor of Christmas, we took a look at the metros with the most and least non-Christian religious minorities in America. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists together account for 9.6% of New York’s population – more than any other metro — followed by Edison-New Brunswick, NJ, and San Jose, CA. (See note at end on data source and definitions.) At the other extreme, Greenville, SC, Knoxville, TN, and El Paso, TX, have the fewest non-Christian religious minorities as a share of their population – making “Merry Christmas” a more appropriate holiday greeting than in New York. Each religious group has a very different geographic pattern, so let’s look at each separately first before pulling it all together.

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Better Off Than 4 Years Ago? Voters Didn’t Care

Obama got less, not more, of the vote in 2012 relative to 2008 in metro areas where unemployment fell and home prices rose during his first term.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
November 14, 2012

(After publishing this post, we got great feedback and decided to do a more technical and detailed follow-up, which is here — JDK.)

Why did Obama win? Throughout the campaign and in exit polls, voters said the economy was their #1 issue. But election data shows that voters did not reward the President in markets where the jobs and housing recoveries are strongest.

How Obama Fared In 2012 Versus 2008
To see how the local housing and jobs recoveries affected the election, let’s first compare Obama’s margin in 2008 with Obama’s margin in 2012, using county-level election results compiled by the U.S. Election Atlas. Nationally, the latest count shows that Obama won 50.6% of the popular vote in 2012 compared to 47.8% for Romney – a margin of 2.7% (the numbers don’t add up due to rounding). In 2008, Obama won 52.9% versus 45.7% for McCain – a margin of 7.3%. Nationally, therefore, Obama’s margin fell from 7.3% in 2008 to 2.7% in 2012 – a drop of 4.5 percentage points.

In general, in metro areas where voters  favored Obama in 2008, they favored him again in 2012. (The correlation between Obama’s margin in 2008 and Obama’s margin in 2012 across metro areas was 0.99.) But Obama’s margin grew in some metros between 2008 and 2012 while falling in most metros. Comparing the presidential votes in 2008 and 2012 among the 100 largest metros, Obama’s margin increased most in Miami and New Orleans. His margin also increased in New York and the upstate metros of Syracuse and Albany.

Where Obama’s Margin Increased the Most

# U.S. Metro

Change in Obama’s margin, 2012 vs 2008

Obama’s margin vs Romney, 2012

Obama’s margin vs McCain, 2008

1 Miami, FL




2 New Orleans, LA




3 New York, NY-NJ




4 Baton Rouge, LA




5 Edison-New Brunswick, NJ




6 Syracuse, NY




7 San Jose, CA




8 Albany, NY




9 Fort Lauderdale, FL




10 Columbus, OH




Among 100 largest metros.                               

In the other direction, Obama did worse relative to his Republican challengers in 2012 than in 2008 in most metros – and more than 10 points worse in Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, and Lake County – Kenosha County (just north of Chicago).

Where Obama’s Margin Decreased the Most

# U.S. Metro

Change in Obama’s margin, 2012 vs 2008

Obama’s margin vs Romney, 2012

Obama’s margin vs McCain, 2008

1 Salt Lake City, UT




2 Indianapolis, IN




3 Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI




4 St. Louis, MO-IL




5 Grand Rapids, MI




6 Kansas City, MO-KS




7 Omaha, NE-IA




8 Austin, TX




9 Ventura County, CA




10 Allentown, PA-NJ




Among 100 largest metros.    

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Finding Diversity in America

Many of America’s most diverse neighborhoods are in the suburbs. Diverse neighborhoods have higher population growth and faster-rising prices than other neighborhoods do.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
November 13, 2012

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday during the Civil War, in an attempt to restore peace and unity to the United States. In today’s diverse America, Thanksgiving remains widely celebrated and crosses religious, racial, and ethnic lines (though some Native Americans consider Thanksgiving a Day of Mourning), with Americans from different regions of the US and different countries around the globe bringing their own traditions to the Thanksgiving table.

This Thanksgiving, we wanted to see which neighborhoods best reflect American diversity. To do so, we identified the country’s most diverse neighborhoods and metros using Census data on race and ethnicity. We measured diversity as the share of a metro area’s or ZIP code’s population in its largest racial or ethnic group: the smaller the share of the largest group, the more diverse the neighborhood is. For instance, an area that is 70% White (the largest group), 20% Black, and 10% Asian is less diverse than one that is 60% Hispanic (the largest group), 30% White, and 10% Black. In this example, the second neighborhood is more diverse because the largest group accounts for 60% of the population versus 70% in the first neighborhood (see note about Census racial and ethnic definitions at end of post).

America’s Most Diverse Metros
Among the 100 largest metros, San Jose is the most diverse. San Jose is 35% White (the largest group), 31% Asian, 28% Hispanic, 3% two-or-more races, and 2% Black. In no other metro does the largest group have a share smaller than 35%. New York ranks second, with a population that is 39% White, 28% Hispanic, 19% Black, and 12% Asian. Four of the ten most diverse large metros in the U.S. are in California: San Jose, Oakland, Orange County, and San Francisco. Only one – New York – is in the Northeast, and not one is in the Midwest.

America’s Most Diverse Metros


U.S. Metro % population in largest group


San Jose, CA



New York, NY-NJ



Oakland, CA



Houston, TX



Honolulu, HI



Fort Lauderdale, FL



Orange County, CA



Memphis, TN-MS-AR



San Francisco, CA



Albuquerque, NM


A lower percentage of population in the largest group means greater diversity. Among 100 largest metros.

The map below shows the diversity index for counties across America. Diversity is highest in California and Hawaii, as well as much of the South. The least-diverse parts of the country (i.e. those with the highest share in the largest group), in contrast, are in New England and parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.  Among the 100 largest metros, Pittsburgh is the least diverse: it is 87% White, 8% Black, 2% Asian, and 1% Hispanic. El Paso also stands out as America’s least-diverse large metro that is not majority-White: El Paso is 82% Hispanic, 13% White, and 3% Black. Hispanics are the majority in Fresno, San Antonio, and Miami as well. In none of the 100 largest metros are Blacks or Asians a majority. The metro with the highest percentage of Blacks is Memphis, at 45%, and the metro with the highest percentage of Asians is Honolulu, at 43%.

Trulia Where to find Diversity in America Map


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