Milwaukee Population and Ethnic Make-up

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According to both the 2010 census and the 2008 American Community Survey, Milwaukee's population is 604,447, making it the 23rd-largest city in the nation, similar in size to cities like Boston, ​​​Seattle, and Washington D.C. It's also Wisconsin's largest city. 

Milwaukee Metro Area Population

However, the population of the Milwaukee metro area is much larger, at 1,751,316. The Milwaukee metro area consists of five counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Washington and Ozaukee counties. The state of Wisconsin's total population is 5,686,986, which means more than 10% of the state's residents reside in the city of Milwaukee. Thirty percent of the state's residents live in the five-county metro area.

When considering city population as opposed to metro area population, Milwaukee can be most closely aligned with Louisville, Kentucky (597,337); Denver, Colorado (600,158); Nashville, Tennessee (601,222); and Washington, DC (601,723). This doesn't take into account, of course, attractions available to visitors and amenities available to residents. Each city has its own personality, largely driven by its cultural and ethnic make-up.

The city of Milwaukee is diverse, and its ethnic makeup is nearly split between white and African-American residents. 

According to the United States Census, Milwaukee’s Ethnic Breakdown in 2010

  • White: 266,339
  • African American: 237,769
  • Asian: 20,851
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native: 4,695
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 241
  • Other race: 44,650
  • Two or more races: 20,288

While the city of Milwaukee can be considered diverse, this changes considerably when looking at Milwaukee County as a whole, including its suburbs to the North, South, and West. Milwaukee County's total population is 947,735, with a white population of 574,656, or more than 55%. The county's African American population, however, is 253,764, or about 27%. Most of the area's African Americans tend to reside in the city, a pattern that hasn't shifted much in the last two or three decades. These numbers also show that less than 20,000 African Americans that live in Milwaukee County live outside the city limits or about 8%. These statistics are echoed in the numbers of all non-white races in the city versus the county, with the vast majority of non-white peoples living within city limits.

According to the United States Census, Milwaukee County’s Ethnic Breakdown in 2011

  • White: 575,656
  • African American: 253,764
  • Asian: 32,433
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native: 6,808
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 363
  • Other race: 51,429
  • Two or more races: 28,293

Milwaukee is often said to be a very racially segregated city -- in fact, some accounts consider Milwaukee to be the most segregated city in the nation. This is the tenor whether you are in conversation with a local or studying population numbers and statistics. The statistical difference between non-white populations in the city versus the county could easily lead to that assumption. Measuring city segregation is more complex than simple population comparisons, however, and the true measure of segregation is found through the use of the "index of dissimilarity."

To learn more about demographics and corresponding data Milwaukee and its surrounding areas, visit this link, published by the city of Milwaukee. This includes the projection that by 2025, Milwaukee's population expects to increase 4.3% to 623,000.

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