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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

October 21, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Why Tukwila is No. 1

Tukwila Station on the light rail (Photo: Seattledude, via Wikimedia Commons)

You don’t hear much about Tukwila.   Just south of Seattle, it’s a small city — only about 19,000 residents and fewer than 10 square miles — and it’s a place that many of us just pass through on I-5 or the light rail.  But here is something to think about next time you do pass through this little place.

According to a recent report from Brown University on the state of racial and ethnic diversity in America, Tukwila is the 11th most diverse city in the United States.  And Tukwila is No. 1 not just in Washington, but the entire Pacific Northwest.

What does “most diverse” mean?  Well, diversity is how you define it, and the authors of this report came up with a formula that uses five racial/ethnic categories from the 2010 Census: White; Black; Hispanic; Asian/Pacific Islander; Native America/Alaskan Native; and Multi-racial/other.

In the formula used in this study, a perfect diversity score would mean that all five racial/ethnic groups listed above are represented equally in a given place.  In other words, each of the five would have to be exactly 20 percent of the population.   Such a place, if it existed, would score a 100.  Not surprisingly, no such place exists.  The closest is a small city in California called Suisun City which scored 95.4, making it the most diverse city in America.

Tukwila scored an impressive 91.5 to place it in the 11th spot nationally.

And in fact, Tukwila is not the only place in Washington to score very high in the rankings.  Three other Washington cities make it into the top 25 most diverse cities in America: Seatac (#15); Bryn Mawr-Skyway (#17); and Boulevard Park (#23).  Only California has more cities in the top 25 than Washington.

So while Seattle is often knocked for lacking diversity, keep in mind that these smaller King County cities just to south are among the most diverse in the country.

What does diversity in Tukwila look like?  Here is what the 2010 Census data show:

Race/Ethnicity Total Percent
White 7,186 37.6
Black/African-American 3,350 17.5
Native/Alaskan 664 3.5
Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific Isl. 3,615 18.9
Latino/Hispanic 3,349 17.5
Multi-Race/Other 943 4.9

 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Delving a little deeper into the Census data on these various racial groups, it is clear that there is diversity within the diversity of Tukwila.  The Asian community is particularly diverse.  The largest group is Filipino (16%) but there are also sizable numbers of Indian, Samoan, Chinese, Japanese and other nationalities.  The Latino population is more homogenous, with 75% of Mexican origin.

That is a lot of diversity within one small city.  What is the community in Tukwila like?  It would be great to hear feedback in the comments from folks who live in Tukwila or know the the city better than I do.


Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: diversity, ethnicity, king county


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