We can’t pinpoint exactly when, but at some point after 2010, Tyler became a majority-minority city. Whites remain the largest demographic group in town, but they now make up less than half of the total population.
This change is almost entirely due to decades of growth in the Hispanic population, which increased by an astounding 541 percent between 1980 and 2010. For comparison, the black population grew 31 percent in that time. The white population grew just 1 percent.
Though this rapid growth has slowed since the recession, Hispanics will continue to be Tyler’s fastest growing group for the foreseeable future. Today’s Tyler Independent School District students are 46 percent Hispanic. Based on current trends, Hispanics will overtake blacks as Tyler’s second largest ethnic group sometime before 2020, if they haven’t already.
These changes are also happening outside the city. Smith County remains majority white, but the area between Tyler and I-20 is now predominantly Hispanic. According to state projections, the county is likely to become majority-minority in the early 2030’s. This isn’t the fastest rate of change in Texas, but it’s up there. Of the state’s 254 counties, Smith County ranks 43rd for fastest Hispanic growth over the last five years, putting us in the top 20 percent.
It’s important to note that despite this overall boom in population, Tyler’s city council doesn’t have a Hispanic representative. Hispanic residents are significantly clustered to the east and northeast of downtown. The most overwhelmingly Hispanic region, District 4, is currently represented by Don Warren, who will be up for reelection next year.