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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024


May 13, 2002 – How many are we, the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands? According to the 2000 Census, there are 108,612 of us across the territory, up from 101,869 in the 1990 census.
That's an increase of 7 percent. By island, the population of St. Croix grew by 6 percent, and so did that of St. Thomas. But St. John's growth was 20 percent, with a phenomenal 79 percent increase in the Coral Bay community.
Coral Bay's population explosion reflects the fact that the area is in the midst of a boom. With little vacant land left on other parts of St. John, mainly mainland transplants and people building vacation villas are breaking ground at a rapid rate on the hillsides that surround Coral Bay.
"It is possible that we are at a saturation point," said Guy Benjamin, whose name graces the school in Coral Bay.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley said that while most homes on the hillsides surrounding Coral Bay used to be owned by working-class white residents, those people as well as local black residents are being priced out. Many of the houses being built in the area are intended for use as vacation villas. "Not many people can afford it," he said.
The 2000 Census shows:
– St. Thomas with a population of 51,181, up from 48,166 in 1990.
– St. Croix with 53,234 people, up from 50,139 in 1990.
– St. John with 4,197 people, up from 3,504 in 1990.
Hispanic influx on St. John
On St. John, growth was particularly strong among census respondents identifying themselves as Hispanics. The percentage of Hispanic residents nearly doubled, from 2.7 percent of the island's population in 1990 to 4.9 percent in 2000. Of course, since St. John's population is small, the actual numbers are not huge: The increase was from 93 persons in 1990 to 207 in 2000. (Although the actual numbers more than doubled, the percentage of Hispanics in the overall St. John population did not double, because the non-Hispanic population also increased greatly.)
Asked to comment on the increase in the Hispanic population on St. John, Frank Mills, who headed the V.I. Census project at the University of the Virgin Islands, said, "There is a bigger need for cheap labor in construction and domestic help."
Harley agreed. He said that every morning dozens of men from the Dominican Republic as well as Haiti wait for casual laborer jobs at construction sites across St. John. "It's supply and demand," he said, adding that if the jobs weren't on St. John, immigrants from those countries wouldn't move to the island.
On St. Thomas and St. Croix, the changes in the Hispanic populations were not large. On St. Thomas, the percentage of people calling themselves Hispanic was 7.3 percent in 2000, up from 6.6 percent in 1990. In St. Croix, the 2000 Census showed a percentage drop — to 21.2 percent from 22.8 percent in 1990. Territory wide, the 2000 and 1990 figures were very close with 14 percent identifying themselves as Hispanic in 2000 and 14.4 percent doing so in 1990.
Mills said the breakdown on where the Hispanics emigrated from is not yet available.
Territorywide, the majority of people who said they were foreign born hailed from Caribbean countries. The largest proportion of those emigrants — 19.5 percent — came to the Virgin Islands from St. Kitts and Nevis.
On St. Thomas, 22.2 percent of those who said they were foreign born came from St. Kitts and Nevis, 15.3 percent were from Dominica and 12.6 percent were from the British Virgin Islands.
Among emigrants to St. Croix, the figures were 17 percent from Antigua and Barbuda, 16. 5 percent from St. Kitts and Nevis, and 15.7 percent from St. Lucia.
On St. John, the figures were 23.3 percent from St. Lucia, 15.7 percent from St. Kitts and Nevis, 13.9 percent from Dominica and 13.8 percent from the BVI.
Territorywide, 4 percent of the population was born in Puerto Rico or another U.S. territory, but most of them live on St. Croix. The figures by island were 6.1 percent on St. Croix, 2.1 percent on St. Thomas and 1.5 percent on St. John.
New options for racial identification
Racial identification was little changed from 1990. In 2000, 76.2 percent of the population identified themselves as black, down slightly from 76.6 percent in 1990. Those identifying themselves as white accounted for 13.1 percent of the population in 2000, also a slight drop, from 13.5 percent in 1990.
In 2000, for the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau gave individuals the option of checking two or more races. In 1990, for those not identifying themselves as being of one particular race, "other" was the only option to checking one of the specified racial groupings. In 2000, 7.5 percent of the territory's population checked "other" as their race, and 3.5 percent checked two or more races, for a total of 11 percent identifying themselves as not of one of the specified racial groupings.
In 1990, the "other" category accounted for 9.9 percent of the population. The other four options were American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and White. In addition, two ethnicity categories were established: Hispanic origin and Not of Hispanic origin.
For 2000, there were five categories in addition to "other" — American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. Minimum categories for ethnicity were Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino.
Mills said that a breakdown of what races make up the "other" race category has not been released, so it is not possible to determine what they are at this time.
Island by island, the 2000 Census percentages of racial identification were:
St. Croix — 73.3 percent black, up a tad from 72.3 percent in 1990; 11.6 percent white, up from 10.7 percent in 1990; and 10.7 percent "other," down sharply from 17 percent in 1990. The new 2000 option of checking two or more races was chosen by 4.4 percent.
St. Thomas — 80.7 percent black, down from 82 percent in 1990; 12.6 percent white, down from 14.9 percent in 1990; and 4 percent "other," up from 3.1 percent in 1990. The option of indicating two or races was chosen by 2.7 percent of the population.
St. John — 57.6 percent black, down significantly from 64.7 percent in 1990; 37.8 percent white, up from 34.5 percent in 1990; and 2.6 percent "other," a sizable increase from 0.8 percent in 1990. The option of checking two or more races was chosen by 2 percent.

Editor's note: The Source will report periodically on selected statistics from the V.I. 2000 Census. Data released to date can be found on the U.S. Census web site at Census2000/USVI.
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