I’m calming my pre-Election Day jitters by downloading new Census data. I’ve been curious about the racial composition of the Northwest, so I crunched the numbers for the largest cities and towns in the region.

Turns out, the most racially diverse places are not the biggest cities, but rather suburbs (particularly in the Puget Sound region) and, in some cases, towns east of the Cascade Mountains. Consider the share of the population that identifies as “white alone” (meaning white and no other race) and Renton, Washington is easily the most diverse locale in the region.


I also took a look at the presence of specific racial groups in Northwest cities. The Puget Sound region holds the top five cities in the region for prevalence of people self-identifying as “Asian alone.” Bellevue, Washington is the clear leader, though Renton also ranks highly.

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    Similarly, Black northwesterners are also more prevalent in Puget Sound cities than anywhere else. Renton and Kent, Washington tie for the largest shares, with Tacoma not far behind. I thought it was interesting that neither Seattle nor Portland—each of which has a vibrant legacy of African American culture—is really very close.


    By contrast, Native Americans are far more prevalent (as a share of total population) east of the Cascades. Montana is far and away the most significantly comprised of people identifying themselves as American Indian.


    Finally, I examined the presence of Hispanic northwesterners, a category that by official Census definition can overlap with other racial identifications. No other city comes close to Yakima, Washington in terms of the presence of people of Hispanic origin, though there are also significant concentrations in the Portland suburbs.



    Notes: All data for the first four tables are calculated from figures in the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, “Table B02001,” single-year estimates for 2009. Data for the Hispanic origin table are calculated from figures in “Table B03003.” ACS figures are the most accurate and recent available, but there are some significant limitations to these data. They are statistical estimates, but I did not include margins of error. Data in the first four tables refer to survey respondents who identified themselves as only one race, and these tables exclude the five other categories that the survey tracks: “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone,” “Some other race alone,” “Two or more races,” “Two races including some other race,” and “Two races excluding some other race, and three or more races.” I excluded Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders because there are so few in Northwest cities. (Only Kent, Washington, with 1.8%, has more than 1%.) Figures for Hispanic origin are not reported in the same manner as figures for the other racial categories.