2020 census reveals Spokane is growing and diversifying
Maybe you’ve noticed the monthly market called El Mercadito which distributes free ingredients used in Latin and Hispanic cuisine? Or maybe you’ve recognized different cultures at community events? Did you take note of Annmarie Caño as the Dean of Gonzaga of the College of Arts and Sciences?
The 2020 census reveals that Spokane is more diverse than ever, with a slight increase in Hispanic and Latino populations as a driving force.
The diverse racial makeup of Spokane County still lags behind national data. Hispanic or Latino racial groups make up 18.7% of the American population and only 13.7% of the population of Washington state. In Spokane County, Latinos and Hispanics make up only 6.6% of the population, but the trend is on the rise: From 2010 to 2020, 14,090 people of Latino descent moved to Spokane County, for a 66% increase, the largest increase of any racial category.
Michael DeLand, professor of sociology at the University of Gonzaga, sees the various census results of Spokane as a city catching up. Children of people who immigrated to the United States in the ’80s and’ 90s are starting to live in Spokane.
“My feeling is that there is a generation and a second generation of workers who come of age, go to college and finally graduate from college,” DeLand said of growing populations. Hispanic despite the low number of immigrants. “Now they’re looking for jobs and a bigger city or looking to get away from their parents. “
After studying growth in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, DeLand also sees diverse communities bringing more money and opportunity to Spokane. Variables like Spokane’s low cost of living or job opportunities close to someone’s alma mater make Spokane fertile ground.
“The new people of color moving to Spokane are college educated and have a middle to upper income distribution,” DeLand said. “It looks different in the city where people are contributing (substantial amounts) of capital. This creates a different racial dynamic than many large metropolitan cities. “
As racial dynamics change, so do the efforts of communities to support diversity. Authentic food trucks like No NAANsense Indian cuisine and a slight increase in the number of students learning English as a second language are key indicators of a diverse population that is growing and welcoming its changing landscape.
“As the (ethnic) community grows, more will find their way to Spokane,” DeLand said. “They are forced to ask their (families) to come and join them because they hear that this is a place where ethnicities can (coexist peacefully).”
For community members like Jennyfer Mesa, the focus is on providing resources for a new sustainable life. Mesa is the co-founder of Latinos in Spokane and recognizes the link between the rise and the nonprofit organization’s grassroots efforts to bring growing ethnic communities to acclimatize to the region.
Mesa adds to the census data herself, moving from Colombia to Spokane after obtaining a work visa in 2011.
Latinos in Spokane have taken responsibility for making their communities active at events requiring public participation. After a meeting with the Washington Census Alliance, Mesa focused on census participation to help create a clearer picture of the Hispanic and Latino population in Spokane.
“We were related to WCA and they gave us a grant because they saw the work we were doing,” Mesa said. “It helped us hire trusted messengers within our community and organizations to do census research. “
While families with mixed citizenship status were wary of the enumeration process, Mesa hired eight “comadres” or “close friends” in English, to explain the purpose of the census while ensuring that there would be no no contact with deportation institutions such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Each community member had 30 to 40 families they could connect with.
“They were Sunday School teachers, students, alumni and members of our trusted community who are known and have a longtime presence,” Mesa said. “Then we didn’t care. Latinos in Spokane have organized cultural parties with activities for the kids, and that helped us raise our hands in this census.
Once COVID hit, Latinos in Spokane returned to their community comrades. The network’s responsibilities included translating ongoing COVID news, delivering PPE and cleaning supplies, and delivering food to people at high risk for the effects of the virus. This internal system of community workers managed the distribution of vaccines and the translation of information, refuted plots and provided transport to vaccination appointments. Mesa believes that the communication channels provided by community leaders make diversity sustainable.
“Despite so many difficult things presented by COVID, even the fears of the former president, we continue to move forward and be grateful,” Mesa said. “(The census and COVID) have had a domino effect, and we’ve been able to provide jobs to important key people in our community and we have that connection with all of these families.”
Population growth goes hand in hand with organizations meeting their unique needs. Latinos in Spokane, launched in 2017, went from a loose network of volunteers to a real office space in May of this year.
Other ethnic and racial groups have also grown in Spokane County over the past decade.
Hawaiian natives and Pacific Islanders saw a 127% increase in population, with 2,401 more people. The number of African Americans living in Spokane County has increased 36% over the past decade, with 2,923 more people. The county’s Asian population grew by 2,697, a growth rate of 27%. Native Americans in Spokane County increased by 797 people, for a growth rate of 10%. Those of two or more races in Spokane County increased 170% to 30,504 people. There was a 5% growth in the white population, with 22,677 new residents.
Non-white ethnic groups make up 17% of Spokane County’s 539,339 residents.
For the first time, the national population of non-Hispanic whites declined by 8%. Washington’s white population declined 1.3% between 2010 and 2020.
According to the census office, the diversity index measures “the probability that two people chosen at random are from different ethnic and ethnic groups.” The US Census marked the US Diversity Index at 61%. Washington ranks 20th nationally, with 56% on the Evergreen State Population Diversity Index.
Census data doesn’t tell us where these newly arrived people of color in the Spokane area are moving, but some of the change is expected to be driven by immigration.
Spokane City Council has partnered with the New American Economy, a bipartisan immigrant research and organization that focuses on the impact of immigration at the federal, state and local levels, to determine the economic impact of immigrants in the city. The NAE uses data like the 2020 Census and the annual American Community Survey to bring together critical data for local communities in a project called Gateway for Growth.
“Our report we just launched for Spokane is based on a subsection of the 2014 to 2019 census and the changes and roles immigrants are playing in the region,” said Mo Kanter, director of national and local initiatives. of the NAE. “We evolve with the published data to constantly update our information. Some programs and initiatives will compile it in different ways for different segments of the community.
According to the findings of the NAE, 26,273 immigrants represented 5.2% of the total population of Spokane County in 2019. Mexico, Canada, Ukraine, Vietnam and Russia were the top five origin countries of the immigrant population of Spokane. Mexican immigrants top the list with 10%.
Almost 6% of foreign-born households held all of their purchasing power in Spokane County and contributed $ 1.8 billion to Spokane County’s gross domestic product.
In July, they presented their Spokane findings in the State of Immigrants and Refugees in Spokane Virtual Forum, where community organizers discussed the local economy with America’s new economy.
Spokane Equity and Inclusion Initiatives City Manager Alexander Gabilisco said information like the 2020 census and the NAE findings make a fair city’s work much more specific.
“Throughout the forum that we have organized, we have asked this question and how do we support these communities here,” Gabilisco said. “It helps us to think and have conversations to create an ethnic community, and what are the obstacles associated with that?” “
One of the obstacles Spokane has faced recently was the lack of immigrants settling in the area. With the number of immigrants drastically reduced by the Trump administration, the immigrant population declined by 4.1%, although the overall population of Spokane County increased by 6.1% in the 2014 NAE report. to 2019.
Refugee organizations in Spokane have been hit hard. World Relief’s refugee resettlement program runs classes that teach the interactions between law enforcement, the public library system, and the landlord-tenant relationship, but the reduction in the number of refugees has created a funding gap for these programs. Mark Finney is the director of the World Relief office in Spokane which provides resettlement for immigrants and refugees in the Spokane area and remembers the change between 2014 and 2019.
“We lacked resources or (the immigrants) lived in greater anxiety because there was more deportations and relocation of immigrants. It made a lot of things more difficult, ”said Finney of Richmond, Va., As he worked to get Afghan refugees to settle in America on Wednesday morning.
Community groups like Latinos en Spokane have helped and supported World Relief after the government cut funding for immigrant programs, proving that community service goes hand in hand with diversity and population growth. Finney reflected on watching the Spokane natives and new residents provide an all-round approach and make the problem “belong to the whole community and not just World Relief”.
“I would like to say it was a real joy to see the way the community came together when the government slowed down and we really had to rely on the community for local support,” said Finney. “The volunteers, the fundraising, the general source and the sense of support really made the difference in getting us through a tough season, and I thank him from all of our community. “