The Marcavitches, who are white, would be a minority in majority-black Prince George’s County. But Marcavitch, 35, who grew up in western Pennsylvania and runs a nonprofit group based in Hyattsville, said that they realized they were moving to a diverse community and that they weren’t concerned about being a minority.
“We just wanted a nice community, and we found that,” he said of the neighborhood where they moved last August.
For the first time in more than four decades, recent census estimates show, the number of whites in Prince George’s is on the upswing. Most are young families, an analysis by The Washington Post finds.
The numbers of Asians and Hispanics are up as well, while African American numbers have declined slightly. But the unexpected rise in white residents is a sharp departure from patterns in place since the 1970s — when whites began to leave as middle-class blacks moved in, turning Prince George’s into one of the most affluent majority-black counties in the nation.
Every census since then, including the latest taken in 2010, has shown a further drop in white residents. But census population estimates released last month for mid-2011 show almost 3,100 more non-Hispanic whites, up 2.4 percent in just 15 months after the census was taken. Overall, the county had an estimated increase of almost 8,000 residents, to more than 871,000. Among the biggest increases were in adults in their mid-20s and early 30s, and children younger than 10, while middle-age adults continued to fall.
The census data suggest that young adults are reshaping the region in ways not seen in generations. For example, in the District, which has been losing African Americans to the suburbs for decades, the census estimated the black population rose by 2,100 people last year. The biggest gains for blacks were in people ages 20 to 34 and older than 55. But the city gained so many whites, Asians and Hispanics in the same time frame — mostly in the same age groups — that African Americans slipped below the 50 percent mark in the District.
In Prince George’s, the sudden turnaround among whites was abetted in large part by the collapse of housing prices that hit the county particularly hard.
But it also may reflect a generational shift in values. Numerous surveys have shown that compared with their parents, young adults are more likely to embrace diversity, opt for public transportation over private automobiles and seek out urban environments where they can walk to downtowns instead of driving to malls. Their tastes are helping drive new housing and retail close to Metro’s Green Line, a corridor where development and growth has lagged compared with the rest of the region.