Regional
4:20 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

New Ranking: Milwaukee Still Country's Most Segregated Metro Area

A Racial Dot Map shows clear a delineation between racial groups in the Milwaukee area.
Credit Dustin A. Cable, University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Reference Data by Stamen Design

A new ranking reaffirms Milwaukee's place as the overall most segregated metropolitan area in the United States.

The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metropolitan statistical area also ranked high in segregation between whites and blacks.

The numbers come from a recent article by the magazine Business Insider. Its authors created a ranking system to measure overall segregation in metropolitan statistical areas. They based their numbers on the work of professors John Logan and Brian Stults at Brown and Florida State.

Back in 2011, the professors used the latest Census data from 2010 to measure "dissimilarity." This refers to what percentage of a certain racial group would have to move to a different neighborhood to get rid of segregation. A score above 60 meant an area had high segregation.

According to their numbers, which compared pairs of racial groups, Milwaukee scored an 80 for white-black dissimilarity and a 57 for white-Hispanic.

Nationwide, Logan and Stults found that while blacks are only 13 percent of the population, they typically live in a neighborhood that is 45 percent black.

Business Insider took the professors' data a step further, weighting these scores by minority population, in order to create an overall segregation score.

Milwaukee received a score of 67.9, placing it first among metropolitan statistical areas in the country. In second place for most segregation was the Detroit area with a score of 66.7.

A Racial Dot Map, developed by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, shows clear a delineation between racial groups. Whites dominate the East Side of Milwaukee, the suburbs to the north and east as well as communities west and south of the city center. Blacks dominate the northwestern part of Milwaukee, while Hispanics concentrate in the south city.

But this isn't news to many in Milwaukee. UWM's Center for Economic Development used 2008 numbers to report that more than 90 percent of the region's blacks lived in the city. At the time, only two other cities had lower percentages of blacks living in the suburbs. Meanwhile, Milwaukee's white population had dropped to 40 percent.

WUWM also reported on Milwaukee's reputation as a segregated city in its "Project Milwaukee: Black & White" series in 2009. At the time, a report by UWM's Marc Levine found that the Milwaukee area had the largest racial disparity in jobless rates of any metro area in the country. Similarly, the Public Policy Forum reflected on findings showing racial disparities in access to job and housing opportunities, as well as a trend of self-segregation in the city.