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Providence's Changing Demographics in Two Charts Providence's Changing Demographics in Two Charts

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The Next Economy | America 360 / Providence

Providence's Changing Demographics in Two Charts

In 1980, fewer than 8,000 Hispanics lived in Rhode Island's state capital. Now, they make up 38 percent of the city's population, and they're changing the political dynamic.

December 19, 2013

A map of Rhode Island, featuring the city of Providence and surrounding areas.

This article is part of a weeklong America 360 series on Providence.

When Angel Taveras's family moved to Providence from New York City in 1971, the entire state of Rhode Island was home to fewer than 8,000 Hispanics.

By the time Taveras—a child of Dominican immigrants—was elected as the state capital's first Hispanic mayor four decades later in 2010, Hispanics had grown to make up 38 percent of Providence's population.

Over the same time period, as with many former industrial hubs, poverty in the city has increased, too. The two trends have changed the city's politics and the policy challenges it now faces, from high unemployment to increased demand for early-childhood education in neighborhoods.

The maps below, created by the Urban Institute using data from the census and the American Community Survey, track the intersection of these two trends across time. In each map, one dot represents 20 people living below the poverty line. Whites are represented in blue, blacks in yellow, Hispanics in green, and Asian/Pacific Islanders in red.

This is metropolitan Providence in 1980.

And, jumping ahead to 2010, here is Providence again, much changed by time, the economy, demographics, and an influx of Hispanic residents.

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