White population experienced largest decrease of any racial group
IN the wake of national discourse and debate over race and equality in the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data from the 2020 Census that shows that the nation is more racially diverse than ever.
According to preliminary results released on Thursday, Aug. 12, the non-Hispanic white population in the U.S., while still the dominant racial group at 204.3 million residents, declined for the first time on record.
“Our analysis of the 2020 Census results show that the US population is much more multiracial, and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past,” said Nicholas Jones, the director and senior advisor of race and ethnic research and outreach in the U.S. Census Bureau’s population division, at a press briefing on Thursday.
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, the census is a decennial survey of the amount of people physically living in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. As American culture and society become more alert to issues of discrimination and racism, the census survey has become a significant, quantifiable barometer of the increasing racial and ethnic diversity.
Jones added that the bureau’s measures of diversity rely on “representation and relative size of different racial and ethnic groups within a population.”
He added, “Diversity is maximized when all groups are represented in an area and have equal shares of the population.”
Broadly, people of color — Black, Latino, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander people — now represented roughly 43% of the total U.S. population in 2020, a significant increase from the 34% found in the 2010 count.
Along with the Hispanic community, the Asian population swelled between 2010 and 2020, increasing by 36% over the past 10 years. The Asian population reached 24 million over the last decade; in 2010, about 17.3 million Asians were recorded. (This includes multiracial Americans who identify as part Asian.)
However, census officials noted that the white population wasn’t shrinking as much as it is shifting as the multiracial community grows exponentially. The number of people who identified as multiracial tripled from 9 million people to 33.8 million people in 2020, accounting for 10% of the U.S. population.
California, a historically diverse state, is now majority Hispanic, growing from 37.6% to 39.4% over the decade; simultaneously, white people in California decreased from 40.1% to 34.7%.
The City of Los Angeles remains the second-largest city in the country, behind New York City, and LA County remains the largest county in the nation with 10,014,009 residents counted in 2020 compared to the 9,818,605 residents counted in 2010 — a 2% increase over the decade.
“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau.
In Southern California, Riverside County experienced the most growth over the last decade; San Bernardino saw a 7.2% increase, Orange County 5.9% increase and Ventura County a 2.5% increase.
In terms of age, falling birth rates contributed to the increase of adults. People over the age of 18 make up more than three-quarters of the overall population while those under 18 dropped from 74.2 million in 2010 to 73.1 million in 2020.
The census survey also provides crucial political information as the data released on Thursday offers states their first opportunity to redraw political districts on the federal, state and local levels. The survey also dictates how $1.5 trillion in federal spending will be allocated and how many seats each state receives in the House of Representatives.
According to Thursday’s data release, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia all lost one seat each. Oregon, Montana, Colorado, North Carolina and Florida each gained one seat, and Texas gained two.
The 2020 census was a monumental survey as it utilized updated methodology in counting all communities, said Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin. Communities of color have been historically undercounted in the decennial survey, due to poor outreach, limited language accessibility and privacy concerns.
The survey itself has changed every time it has been administered to more accurately count communities of color, clarifying concerns over the race question by asking residents more detailed questions about how they identify racially and ethnically.
The data released on Thursday is preliminary and does not account for possible undercounting or overcounting, but Jarmin assured that “the data we released today meet our high quality data standards.