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Ethnic diversity in America creates cultural and economic impacts

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terry arthurEthnoracial diversity, linguistic diversity and birthplace diversity were key metrics used by WalletHub in its report on 2022’s Most & Least Ethnically Diverse Cities.

Jersey City, N.J. is the most ethnically diverse city in the United States, followed by Germantown, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring, Md., as well as Spring Valley, Nevada.

The least ethnically diverse American cities are Wheeling, W.Va., Laredo, Texas, Haileah, Fla., Clarksburg and Parkersburg, W.Va.

Experts offered commentary on the benefits of living in an ethnically diverse city.

“In such an environment, one has regular opportunities to meet and interact with people from a range of racial and ethnic groups and to develop friendships with some of them,” said Jonathan Y. Okamura, Professor Emeritus at UH Mānoa, Hawaiʻi, said in a press release. “An ethnically diverse city enables one to learn about cultures and traditions different from one’s own and to teach one’s children about appreciating and respecting cultures and people who are different from them. Even fleeting interactions with others not from our own racial or ethnic group provide circumstances that can affirm our shared membership in a common society.”

“The list of benefits is infinite! To start, diversity pushes us to become more open-minded and flexible,” said Virginia Tech Associate Professor Anna-Katherine Ward in the press release. “Research shows that even seeing diversity around us can make our brains work harder and think in different ways. It’s no surprise, then, that diverse cities tend to have more innovative and productive workforces. Diversity is also great for entrepreneurial activity. Just look at the list of billion-dollar companies that were either founded or co-founded by immigrants! Diverse cities tend to offer much greater variety in things to do, so your lifestyle options increase. Also, when you’re around people from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, it tends to push you to think more about your own background – which helps you to become more self-aware and appreciative of others’ differences. This is just a short list – it could go on forever!”

According to WalletHub, Oakland, Calif.’s racial and ethnic diversity is four times higher than in Hialeah, Florida. However, Hialeah has the highest concentration of Hispanic and Latino at 95.75 percent. The highest concentration of white people is in Clarksburg, W.Va. with 94.08 percent. The highest concentration of Black people is 83.23 percent in Greenville, Mississippi.

America’s younger generations today are the most ethnically diverse yet. Experts offered opinion on the impact of the increasingly diverse demographic on the American economy.

“This evolution is interesting to watch! Companies are doing a lot to study their markets – and potential future markets – and there is a lot of opportunity to be found. As diversity increases, trends broaden. There will be room for more kinds of products and services, more varied interests to tap into. These are exciting times!” Ward said.

White baby boomers retiring in the past decade should have created expanded opportunities in professional, administrative and white-collar jobs for America’s growing non-white population, according to Okamura.

“However, only some ethnic minorities, such as Asian Indians and Chinese Americans, have experienced substantial socioeconomic advancement over the past several decades, while the racial wealth gap between, on the one hand, Whites and, on the other, African Americans and Latinos has widened hugely since the global recession in 2008. The decreasing White percentage of the population does not necessarily mean increasing economic opportunities for non-Whites in higher status and higher income occupations because of the expansion of systemic racism in America, which maintains racial inequality,” Okamura said.

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