*(Via NY Times) – When Natalie Madeira Cofield walks among the local boutiques and cafes in her South Congress Avenue neighborhood in Austin (Texas), she likes to take note of the other African-Americans she sees.
“If I get past 10, I’m like, ‘Wow, there are a lot of black people out today,’ ” said Ms. Cofield, 32, who moved to Austin three years ago from Washington to become head of what is now the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce.
Austin, with a population of 885,400, is among the country’s fastest-growing cities, luring residents with its live music scene, technology jobs and laid-back way of life. But the city is struggling to attract and retain African-Americans. Among large, fast-growing cities, Austin is the only one with a shrinking African-American population, according to a May report from the University of Texas at Austin that relied on Census Bureau data.
“It is completely outside the norm,” said Eric Tang, an author of the report, which looked at cities of at least 500,000 residents that experienced a double-digit rate of population growth from 2000 to 2010. While Dr. Tang said researchers expected to find that Austin’s African-American population was not growing at the same rate as the general population, they did not expect to find a decline. None of the other cities examined, Dr. Tang said, showed a drop. (U.T.-Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune.)
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As Austin’s population grew 20.4 percent from 2000 to 2010, its African-American population declined 5.4 percent. In contrast, the population of African-Americans increased for the Austin metropolitan region.
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