America's neighborhoods took large strides toward racial integration in the last decade as blacks and whites chose to live near each other at the highest levels in a century.
Still, segregation in many parts of the U.S. persisted, with Hispanics in particular turning away from whites.
A broad range of 2009 census data released Tuesday also found a mixed economic picture, with the poverty rate swinging wildly among counties from 4 percent to more than 40 percent as the nation grappled with a housing boom and bust. Just three U.S. localities reported median household income of more than $100,000, down from seven in 2000.
Segregation among blacks and whites increased in one-fourth of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, compared to nearly one-half for Hispanics.
The latest figures reflect new generations of middle-class blacks moving to prosperous, fast-growing cities, said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution who reviewed the census data. "In contrast, the faster national growth of Hispanics has led to increased neighborhood segregation," Frey said.