We’re Not in the Mood!

That could be one conclusion you might draw from a first look at the 2010 Census data for the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties showing a drop in the number of children under 18.


No wonder we are crabby here, you say. But you better check the data for your own hometown—you might just find the same demographic trend.

A big loss of kids in the under 18 age cohort portends a big problem finding the workers of the future, but before you jump to that conclusion the data suggests this is more a migration issue than a need for a ‘date night’.

The Census results tell us that families with young children across the nation are moving to areas where housing is cheaper, streets are safer for their kids and there are better job opportunities.  At the same time America’s great melting pot is working just fine as the diversity of the population is increasing with more Latino and Asians in the population mix replacing white and black families in the moving about .  But without that growth in Latino and Asian youth the drop in kids under 18 would have been even more pronounced in the Bay area.

Contra Costa County census 2010 results show 27,000 fewer white and 3,000 fewer black children, but 27,000 more Latinos and 7,800 more Asians. Napa County also saw a similar swing losing 4,600 white kids but gaining 4,500 Latinos and 1,300 Asians for a net gain of 5 percent in their under-18 population.

Alameda County lost 30,000 white and 17,300 black kids replaced by an increase of 14,000 Asian and 16,000 Latino kids. Alameda County’s net 4 percent loss overall in its child-age population masks the changing demographics under way.

Warning to California Politicians

California’s politicians are bickering and in denial.  The state has been at war with itself for years over issues driven by the politics of the special interest groups that dominate Sacramento.  Meanwhile, back on Main Street people are voting with their feet—and often it is not a vote of confidence in the Golden State.

These demographic changes inside California and across the nation are likely to have profound effects.  For the first time since statehood in 1850 California will not pick up an additional Congressional seat following this 2010 Census. But for the growth of the Latino and Asian population it would have lost a seat.

These same demographic changes are playing out in the Midwest and Northeastern States losing population to the South, to Texas and the Southwest.  The sour economy is driving much of this migration but there is also a profound reality check in the decision to move—-the jobs lost in Ohio, Michigan, New York and elsewhere are not coming back.

The same chilling implication for California by these numbers is California lost kids in every county except San Francisco County where an influx of white urban professionals brought 3,000 white kids to the City and Placer County the fast growing edge of the Sacramento region at the northern end of the Great Central Valley which grew twice as fast as the state average.

The California Dream is slipping away and it may no longer be a magnet for people looking for jobs and new opportunity.  The Golden State has tarnished.  The reasons are many and obvious. For individuals it is the high cost of housing, high taxes and a perceived lack of job opportunities.  For business it is the high cost of doing business and the hassle factors of California’s perceived regulatory process.  And if people do move to California they are more likely to look at Fresno or Bakersfield or elsewhere in the Great Central Valley which explains the rapid growth of that area.

So what?

As the 2010 Census data reveals the patterns of change in America we see both opportunities and risks in the millions of choices being made around the kitchen table and in the board rooms of America.  Where can we go to find a better opportunity for ourselves and our kids?

The message to politicians—give us back our American Dream—-or else!

But there is also good news in the 2010 Census we should celebrate.  America is still growing and its diversity and the power of the American Dream to assimilate people from many nations and cultures has never been more powerful.  What other country do you see people risking everything to break into?  What other country do you find the blending of races and cultures and nationalities creating so profoundly positive a change in people’s lives and the bedrock strength of communities and the nation.

Americans have not been ‘in the mood’ for the past few years worried over the recession, jobs, deficits and the crazy world we live in.  But that does not mean we have forgotten how we got to be a great nation.  And signs of economic spring will put a twinkle in our eye, but first we must correct the imbalances that threaten the American Dream and remind our government that it works for us—not the other way around.

Compare America’s demographics to those of any of the Middle East nations now in turmoil and you will see the secret sauce of success.  Freedom, economic opportunity, a stable place to raise children, religious tolerance—and hope!  These ingredients in the American Dream recipe have worked for us for more than 200 years and they still work.  the 2010 census data tell us Americans are churning for opportunity, willing to break old habits, tired of being on the defensive and ready to take charge of our own futures.

Hmmm, maybe a ‘date night’ is just what the doctor ordered to put us back ‘in the mood’.

You can find more data at the US2010 Project, an online site digesting census data and its implications across the country as the results are released.