Howard County gets more diverse as pace of growth slows

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 9, 2011; 10:52 PM

Howard County's rapid population growth slowed over the past decade, with whites declining and Asians and Hispanics soaring.

The county lost about 10,000 white residents during the decade, and its population grew by almost 40,000. As a result, the white population fell from 73 percent in the previous decade to 59 percent last year. In that period, the number of blacks increased from 35,000 to 39,000 and the number of Asians rose from from 19,000 to 41,000. Asians now make up 14 percent of the county.

Hispanics, while fewer in number, also registered significant growth. They rose from about 7,500 in the previous census to almost 17,000 last year. They make up nearly 6 percent of the population.

Howard's growth rate of about 16 percent is about half the pace it maintained in the 1990s, reflecting county efforts to slow the breakneck pace of growth in the previous two decades.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) said the 2010 Census numbers were in line with his expectations. He said he considers the county's schools to be a magnet for immigrants and blacks seeking a better life for their children.

Word of mouth about the schools will continue to fuel growth, said Ulman, a graduate of Centennial High School. His alma mater receives calls from South Korea, inquiring about the boundary lines for the school from prospective home buyers.

"The fact we have a great school system is such a strong anchor for our community," he said. "When you move somewhere for the schools, you have a stake in the community."

© 2011 The Washington Post Company