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For years, the Milwaukee metro area has had a reputation as one of the most segregated in the United States.How did this complex problem come about, and why does it endure? How does it contribute to persistent poverty? Are there ways to break through the boundaries?WUWM seeks answers to those questions in our Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters series.

Ranking: Milwaukee Still Country's Most Segregated Metro Area

A Racial Dot Map shows clear a delineation between racial groups in the Milwaukee area.

A 2013 ranking reaffirms Milwaukee's place as the overall most segregated metropolitan area in the United States. The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metropolitan statistical area also ranked high in segregation between whites and blacks.

>> This story is from 2013. For WUWM's complete 2017 series on segregation, visit Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters.

The numbers come from a recent article by the magazine Business Insider. Its authors created a ranking system to measure overall segregation in metropolitan statistical areas. They based their numbers on the work of professors John Logan and Brian Stults at Brown and Florida State.

Back in 2011, the professors used the latest Census data from 2010 to measure "dissimilarity." This refers to what percentage of a certain racial group would have to move to a different neighborhood to get rid of segregation. A score above 60 meant an area had high segregation.

According to their numbers, which compared pairs of racial groups, Milwaukee scored an 80 for white-black dissimilarity and a 57 for white-Hispanic.

Nationwide, Logan and Stults found that while blacks are only 13 percent of the population, they typically live in a neighborhood that is 45 percent black.

Business Insider took the professors' data a step further, weighting these scores by minority population, in order to create an overall segregation score.

Milwaukee received a score of 67.9, placing it first among metropolitan statistical areas in the country. In second place for most segregation was the Detroit area with a score of 66.7.

A Racial Dot Map, developed by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, shows clear a delineation between racial groups. Whites dominate the East Side of Milwaukee, the suburbs to the north and east as well as communities west and south of the city center. Blacks dominate the northwestern part of Milwaukee, while Hispanics concentrate in the south city.

But this isn't news to many in Milwaukee. UWM's Center for Economic Development used 2008 numbers to report that more than 90 percent of the region's blacks lived in the city. At the time, only two other cities had lower percentages of blacks living in the suburbs. Meanwhile, Milwaukee's white population had dropped to 40 percent.

WUWM also reported on Milwaukee's reputation as a segregated city in its "Project Milwaukee: Black & White" series in 2009. At the time, a reportby UWM's Marc Levine found that the Milwaukee area had the largest racial disparity in jobless rates of any metro area in the country. Similarly, the Public Policy Forum reflected on findings showing racial disparities in access to job and housing opportunities, as well as a trend of self-segregation in the city.

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