New census data confirm that some major metropolitan areas flipped from majority white to majority populations of minorities during the past decade.
White people are now in the minority in 46 of the nation's 366 metro areas, including New York, Washington, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
That number is up from 32 in 2000, 10 in 1990 and nine in 1980, Frey said.
The changes are a result of relatively slow growth among the white population, white people moving outside metropolitan areas, and huge increases in minority populations, especially Hispanic and Asian, he said.
Recent analysis also showed white children are in the minority in 10 states.
"[The 2010 Census figures] show we’re becoming a more diverse nation, especially in our metropolitan areas, and it's filtering out from there," Frey said.
The Census Bureau previously released the data for cities, counties and states, but data calculated for metropolitan areas and regions might give people a more accurate understanding of where they live, Frey said.
For example, while the population of the city of Atlanta grew by about 3,500, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metro area, as the Census Bureau calls it, grew by more than 1 million. The Houston and Dallas areas also had growth of more than 1 million, while the Phoenix and Riverside, California, areas both added more than 900,000.
"As we become much more of a suburban nation, the kind of glue that puts the community together is the idea of the metropolitan community," he said.
Looking at metro areas also can offer a deeper view of how people live in different areas. Frey has used statistics about metropolitan areas to calculate the most segregated areas in the country. In terms of white and black, the most segregated areas were around Milwaukee, New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.