DIVERSIFICATION DATA. Chinese lion dancers perform in Oakland’s
Chinatown in Oakland, California, in this January 21, 2006 file photo.
According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, California’s Asian
population grew by 25% in the past decade, making them the fastest
growing ethnic group in the nation’s most populous state. (AP Photo/Paul
From The Asian Reporter, V31, #9 (September 6, 2021), page 8.
Census data: U.S. population is diversifying
By Mike Schneider
The Associated Press
No racial or ethnic group dominates for those under age 18, and white
people declined in numbers for the first time on record in the overall
U.S. population as the Hispanic and Asian populations boomed this past
decade, according to the 2020 census data.
The figures released in mid-August by the U.S. Census Bureau offered
the most detailed portrait yet of how the country has changed since 2010
and will also be instrumental in redrawing the nation’s political maps.
The numbers are sure to set off an intense partisan battle over
representation at a time of deep national division and fights over
voting rights. The numbers could help determine control of the House of
Representatives in the 2022 elections and provide an electoral edge for
years to come.
The data also will shape how $1.5 trillion in annual federal spending
The data offered a mirror not only into the demographic changes of
the past decade, but also a glimpse of the future. To that end, they
showed there is now no majority racial or ethnic group for people
younger than 18, as the share of non-Hispanic whites in the age group
dropped from 53.5% to 47.3% over the decade.
The share of children in the U.S. declined because of falling birth
rates, while the share of adults grew, driven by aging baby boomers.
Adults older than 18 made up more than three-quarters of the population
in 2020, or 258.3 million people, an increase of more than 10% from
2010. However, the population of children under age 18 dropped from 74.2
million in 2010 to 73.1 million in 2020.
"If not for Hispanics, Asians, people of two or more races, those are
the only groups underage that are growing," said William Frey, a senior
fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program. "A lot of these young
minorities are important for our future growth, not only for the child
population but for our future labor force."
The Asian and Hispanic populations burgeoned from 2010 to 2020,
respectively increasing by around a third and almost a quarter over the
decade. The Asian population reached 24 million people in 2020, and the
Hispanic population hit 62.1 million people.
The Hispanic boom accounted for almost half of the overall U.S.
population growth, which was the slowest since the Great Depression. By
comparison, the non-Hispanic growth rate over the decade was 4.3%. The
Hispanic share of the U.S. population grew to 18.7% of the U.S.
population, up from 16.3% in 2010.
"The 2020 Census confirmed what we have known for years — the future
of the country is Latino," said Arturo Vargas, CEO of the National
Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.
The share of the white population fell from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in
2020, the lowest on record, driven by falling birthrates among white
women compared with Hispanic and Asian women. The number of non-Hispanic
white people shrank from 196 million in 2010 to 191 million.
White people continue to be the most prevalent racial or ethnic
group, though that changed in California, where Hispanics became the
largest racial or ethnic group, growing from 37.6% to 39.4% over the
decade, while the share of white people dropped from 40.1% to 34.7%.
California, the nation’s most populous state, joined Hawai‘i, New
Mexico, and the District of Columbia as a place where non-Hispanic white
people are no longer the dominant group.
"The U.S. population is much more multiracial and much more racially
and ethnically diverse than what we have measured in the past," said
Nicholas Jones, a Census Bureau official.
Some demographers cautioned that the white population was not
shrinking as much as shifting to multiracial identities. The number of
people who identified as belonging to two or more races more than
tripled from 9 million people in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020. They now
account for 10% of the U.S. population.
People who identify as a race other than white, Black, Asian,
American Indian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander — either alone or
in combination with one of those races — jumped to 49.9 million people,
surpassing the Black population of 46.9 million people as the nation’s
second-largest racial group, according to the Census Bureau.
But demographers said that may have to do with Hispanic uncertainty
about how to answer the race question on the census form, as well as
changes the Census Bureau made in processing responses and how it asked
about race and ethnicity in order to better reflect the nation’s
The data release offers states the first chance to redraw their
political districts in a process that is expected to be particularly
brutish since control over Congress and statehouses is at stake.
It also provides the first opportunity to see, on a limited basis,
how well the Census Bureau fulfilled its goal of counting every U.S.
resident during what many consider the most difficult once-a-decade
census in recent memory. Communities of color have been undercounted in
past censuses. The agency likely will not know how good a job it did
until next year, when it releases a survey showing undercounts and
"The data we are releasing today meet our high quality data
standards," acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said.
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