Hey, Bay Area: You Really Are Diverse

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California has been a famously diverse place ever since its doors swung open to the world at the beginning of the Gold Rush. In addition to the flood of Americans from the Eastern states, crowds flocked here from China, Hawaii, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, England, Germany, France and Italy. Among other places.

Notwithstanding the fact that California -- white California, anyway -- hasn't always been so happy about that diversity, the state's population continues to be what historian Sucheng Chan has termed "a truly variegated mosaic."

That's certainly the impression one gets in a place that has absorbed wave after wave of immigration since the arrival of Spanish colonists in the 18th century, and where counties offer voting materials in as many as 10 languages (in 2012, Los Angeles County printed ballots in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Thai and Hindi).

The latest snapshot of diversity comes from the consumer financial education and information service WalletHub, which crunched Census Bureau data to rank the 350 most populous U.S. communities on "ethno-racial and linguistic diversity."


What does the ranking mean exactly?

WalletHub looked at census numbers for three categories -- a community's reported racial and ethnic diversity, primary household languages used in a community, and where community residents were born (in the United States or abroad). The index was created by running the raw numbers for each category through the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, a tool usually used to analyze market concentration, then adding up the weighted scores for each community in each category to come up with the city ranking. (If that's not clear, check out WalletHub's explanation.)

Here's the company's list of most and least diverse communities based on analysis of Census Bureau data. The Bay Area and Northern California are well represented in the "most diverse" group:

Cities with the Most Ethno-Racial and Linguistic Diversity

1. Jersey City, New Jersey
2. Germantown, Maryland
3. Hayward
4. New York City
5. Carson (Los Angeles County)
6. San Jose
7. Irving, Texas
8. Richmond
9. Santa Clara
10. Stockton

Other Bay Area cities were just outside the Top 10: Sunnyvale ranked 11th, San Francisco 13th, Oakland 14th, Vallejo 17th (tied with Kent, Washington) and San Mateo 20th.

Also attention-getting:

  • In the racial and ethnic diversity ranking, Vallejo was No. 1 nationwide and Oakland was second.
  • In language diversity, Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, was No. 1, followed by Fremont and Sunnyvale. San Jose ranked fifth.
  • In diversity of place of birth, the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte was No. 1, followed by Daly City. Sunnyvale ranked fifth.
  • Daly City recorded the highest percentage of residents of Asian descent nationwide, with 57.28 pecent.
  • Santa Rosa was the Bay Area's least diverse city, ranking No. 158 nationwide. Vacaville, at No. 150, was second-least diverse, and Berkeley was third-least diverse at No. 112.

Now, here are some less diverse places:

Cities with the Least Ethno-Racial and Linguistic Diversity

341. Arvada, Colorado
342. Livonia, Michigan
343. Fargo, North Dakota
344. Spokane Valley, Washington
345. Lee's Summit, Missouri
346. Evansville, Indiana
347. Springfield, Missouri
348. Jackson, Mississippi
349. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
350. Billings, Montana