Valley gains diversity but still mostly white |

Valley gains diversity but still mostly white

The Hispanic population soared in the Roaring Fork Valley during the last decade but the overall population remains predominantly white, U.S. Census data released this week shows.

Glenwood Springs was the only municipality in the valley where the white population decreased between 2000 and 2010, census data showed. All other towns in the valley saw the number of white residents increase, but those increases were eclipsed by the gains in the number of minorities.

On the upper end of the valley, about nine out of every 10 census respondents in Aspen and Snowmass Village identified themselves as white.

Aspen’s 2010 population was 6,658, the census found. Of that number, 5,924 residents, or 89 percent, identified themselves as white. In 2000, white residents accounted for 91 percent of the overall population. Hispanics accounted for 7.5 percent of the city’s population in 2010 compared to 6 percent a decade earlier.

The Hispanic population of Aspen grew from 363 in 2000 to 499 last year.

At the other end of the valley, Glenwood Springs’ white population fell from 6,479, or 84 percent, of the overall population in year 2000 to 6,276, or 65 percent, of the overall population in 2010, the U.S. Census reported.

During that same time, the Hispanic population grew from 1,029, or 13 percent, in 2000 to 3,031, or 32, percent of the total last year.

Carbondale had the highest percentage of Hispanic residents among the towns in the valley. Its Hispanic population climbed from 1,669, or 32 percent, of the overall population in 2000 to 2,529, or 39 percent, of the head-count in 2010, census statistics show.

Carbondale’s white population also increased, but not as quickly. Those identifying themselves as white went from 3,418, or 66 percent, of the overall population in 2000 to 3,752, or 58 percent, of the overall population last year.

Basalt’s Hispanic population went from 315 at the start of the decade to 783 at the end. Hispanics accounted for 12 percent of the overall population in 2000 and 20 percent in 2010.

Basalt’s white population went from 2,284, or 85 percent, at the start of the decade to 2,937, or 76 percent, by the end of the decade.

Snowmass Village’s white population was 95 percent in 2000 and it remained at 92 percent by the end of the decade.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said the Hispanic population is likely underrepresented in the census because people in the country illegally or those in the country legally but living with legal residents might avoid the census.

“I think there may be some hesitancy [to be counted] but I think it’s hard to measure,” he said.

Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt, a volunteer with English in Action, which helps non-English speakers learn the language, agreed that some Hispanics would likely avoid the census survey because of their residency status or the status of family and friends. If there was any type of language barrier between the survey taker and the residents, they might have been wary to divulge information about their households, she said.

On the county level, the census data showed 88 percent of Pitkin County’s 17,148 residents identified themselves as white last year, down slightly from the 91 percent who identified themselves as white a decade earlier. Pitkin County’s Hispanic population grew from 6.5 percent in year 2000 to 9 percent in 2010.

The number of Hispanics in Pitkin County increased from 973 to 1,561.

In Garfield County, the white population shrunk from 81 percent of the overall population in 2000 to 69 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the Hispanic population climbed from 17 percent to 28 percent, the census data showed.

There were 38,784 white residents of Garfield County in 2010 and 15,978 Hispanics, according to the census.

In Eagle County, those who identified themselves as white decreased from 74 percent to 67 percent while Hispanics increased from 23 percent to 30 percent.

Eagle County had 35,105 whites last year and 15,689 Hispanics.

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