White flight … to Brooklyn

Population pendulum is swinging back the other way

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn is getting whiter, the Census Bureau reported last week, confirming many residents’ unscientific observations.

Between 2004 and 2005, the number of blacks in the borough decreased by approximately 20,000, while the number of whites increased by more than 66,000 [see chart].

“The trend is very significant,” said Pedro Noguera, a demographer at New York University. “The city is gentrifying rapidly, and rising property values are driving people out.”

The “gentrifica­tion” trend has been obvious since the Brownstone Brooklyn revival took root in the 1970s. The trend accelerated in recent years as numerous upscale residential developments were planted in adjacent neighborhoods, and could advance further if projects such as Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards and the condo-infused Brooklyn Bridge Park come on-line.

Sociologists say the shift also reflects the migration of lower-wage-earners, the majority of whom happen to be black, to the south. Middle- and upper-income blacks are not leaving at the same rate.

Noguera warns that the city cannot flourish without low-wage earners.

“You need people are willing to work low-wage jobs to keep the city running,” he said.

But Queens College demographer Andrew Beveridge saw the trend in a more neutral light, saying the population shift is actually a long-term trend.

“The black population [in Brooklyn] would have been declining for over 25 years were it not for the Caribbean immigrants coming in,” said Beveridge.

“Meanwhile, there’s tremendous numbers of kids coming into Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Flatbush and Canarsie.”

These mid-decade Census numbers are part of the Bureau’s American Community Survey, a new program that supplies demographic data on an annual basis rather than every 10 years.

The report also showed:

• The number of college-educated Brooklynites increased by 50,000, or a hard-to-believe 23 percent.

• The number of Brooklynites of Asian descent increased by more than 4,200, or 1.9 percent.

• Native Hawaiian Brooklynites increased by nearly 14 percent — although the Bureau admits that its margin of error is plus or minus more than 100 percent.

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