A food truck serves lunch in Berclair, which sits in the area where the Hispanic population soared between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Census data released Thursday. Photo by Brandon Dill for MLK50

While we’re combing through the 2020 Census data released yesterday, here are three major takeaways for Shelby County.

1. On diversity, Shelby County is no longer (tied for) No. 1

Davidson County has ever so slightly surpassed Shelby County in a measurement of diversity. The government’s diversity index measures the chance that two random people in a given area will be of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The closer to 0, the less diverse an area is and the closer to 100, the more diverse.

In 2010, Davidson and Shelby County were even at 58%. (The city of Memphis was less diverse, at 52%, and Nashville was more diverse, at 59%).

In 2020, both counties improved on the diversity index; Davidson County rose to 63% – the highest in the state –  while Shelby County hit 61%. (Nashville also increased to 63%, and Memphis to 56%). 

Both the cities and the counties are much more diverse than Tennessee, which measured 47%.

2. Very few areas saw increases in the white population, which dropped countywide

Only one area lost Hispanic and Black residents, while gaining white residents: 38105, which includes the part of downtown with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Winchester Park, just north of the Medical District.

(The census uses the ZIP Code Tabulation Area geography. ZCTAs are very similar to ZIP codes.)

Countywide, the white population fell by about 42,000, from 359,106 in 2010 to 316,740 in 2020. An exception: The northeast part of the county, including Arlington, is now home to more white people.

But 38105, which lost a little over 123 total residents and now has a population just over 6,000, saw a 45% increase in the number of white people. 

3. Who gets credit for the county’s tiny population growth? Hispanic people

The county’s total population increased by just over 2,000 residents, to 929,744. But the Hispanic population increased by more than 25,000, while both the white and Black populations dropped.

Over the past decade, there was a 19% jump in the number of people in 38122 in the Berclair neighborhood, which is loosely bounded by Holmes, Chelsea, Interstate 40 and Sam Cooper in Northeast Memphis. The surge – from 25,270 in 2010 to 30,022 in 2020 – can be attributed largely to a massive increase in the Hispanic population, which grew from 5,590 to 10,281 over the last decade.

Gregory Blumenthal, principal of GMBS Consulting, contributed data analysis for this story.

Hannah Grabenstein is a reporter for MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Email her at hannah.grabenstein@mlk50.com

Rafael Figueroa, a journalist with La Prensa Latina, translated this story to Spanish.


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