More blacks return to the south

In the Great Migration that covered much of the 20th century, millions of African-Americans moved to northern cities from the south in search of economic opportunities. With this influx, cities like Chicago were changed dramatically. But a new study suggests that this trend may now be working in reverse as blacks move from northern cities back to the south:

The economic downturn has propelled a striking demographic shift: black New Yorkers, including many who are young and college educated, are heading south.

About 17 percent of the African-Americans who moved to the South from other states in the past decade came from New York, far more than from any other state, according to census data. Of the 44,474 who left New York State in 2009, more than half, or 22,508, went to the South, according to a study conducted by the sociology department of Queens College for The New York Times.

The movement is not limited to New York. The percentage of blacks leaving big cities in the East and in the Midwest and heading to the South is now at the highest levels in decades, demographers say…

Some blacks say they are leaving not only to find jobs, but also because they have soured on race relations.

A few questions pop into my mind:

1. As the article suggests, this sounds like more of an exodus of the middle-class and above. How does this movement back south break down by income and education levels?

2. How exactly does racism and discrimination play into this? Is the situation in the South now preferable to what is happening in major Midwestern and Northwestern cities?

3. How surprising is this considering the population shifts in America over the last few decades to the South and the West?

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