We really love it when people get down and dirty with massive amounts of numbers. A good round of number crunching, rather than a lazy one, can turn up interesting trends that might have otherwise been overlooked.

2006_04_03_timesquote.jpgTake for example this article in today's Times. Even though the population of Gotham and its suburbs has been on the rise lately, that growth has apparently not come from our black population. On the contrary, New York City "had 30,000 fewer black residents in 2004 than in 2000" (unlike, say, when the city's black population grew by 115,000 in the 1990's). And though white New Yorkers are still the most likely group to leave the city, black New Yorkers are far more inclined to leave the New York region all together (7 in 10 black people who leave New York, leave New York - see this Times graphic). "This suggests that the black movement out of New York City is much more of an evacuation than the movement for whites."

The implications for a city of 8.2 million people could be profound. If the trend continues, not only will the black share of New York's population, which dipped below 25 percent in 2000, continue to decline, particularly if the overall population grows, but a higher proportion of black New Yorkers will be foreign-born or the children of immigrants.

Two other facts stuck out to us in the Times article: 1) New Yorkers in the armed forces or who are institutionalized are not counted as residents. And 2) "A net loss of black residents, even between censuses, would apparently be the first since the Civil War. In 1863, after mobs attacked blacks during the draft riots, many fled New York City. 'By 1865,' Leslie M. Harris wrote in 'In the Shadow of Slavery,' the city's 'black population had plummeted to just under 10,000, its lowest since 1820.'"