diversity in demographics: is Bellevue bland?

diversity in demographics: is Bellevue bland?

In the spirit of Election Day, let’s talk demographics.

Bellevue is the fifth largest city in Washington state, clocking in at about 119,000 residents, as compared to 562,000 in the Emerald City across the lake. Bellevue is the largest city on the Eastside, surpassing Redmond, the home of Microsoft and other familiar names.

Most notably, Bellevue has a lot of yuppies. Especially downtown Bellevue, which is seeing the most growth right now.

Almost 60 percent of Bellevue residents over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 27 percent nationwide. A whopping 68 percent made at least $50,000 last year, and the median income clocked in at almost $77,000. (The equivalent nationwide numbers: 48 percent of Americans made at least $50,000 last year; median income, $48,000.)

About 72 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, which is about the nationwide average. More telling is the minority breakdown: 20 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic/Latino, and 1 percent African American.

So, based on these numbers, my neighbors are likely white, well educated and well compensated. One in five of my neighbors are Asian, and I would be lucky to find someone who isn’t either white or Asian.

Surely, I am making broad generalizations here. These numbers do show that Bellevue is lacking in diversity. Can Bellevue sustain its growth when it lacks a diverse resident base?

How important of an objective is diversity?

Bellevue has done an admirable job in managing its growth. But it lacks the vibrancy found in cities like Boston, New York, or even Seattle. In order to truly become a major player in the area, a destination onto itself, Bellevue needs to find a way to diversify.

How Bellevue might diversify is a harder question to answer, but a critical one if it wants to escape its otherwise bland fate.

(My statistics came from the US Census Bureau‘s 2006 American Community Survey.)

-Michele M. Fierro

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