Over the past decade, the United States experienced unprecedented multiracial population growth and a decrease in the white population for the first time in America’s history.
Without another race, the non-Hispanic white population decreased by 8.6 percent since 2010, according to the new data released on Thursday (August 12). Nicholas Jones, the director of race, ethnicity, research and outreach for the Census Bureau’s Population Division, says some of the changes in the numbers over the past decade, however, can be attributed to improvements to the survey and how data is collected.
“These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial, and more racially and ethnically diverse, than what we measured in the past,” Jones told reporters
The White, non-Hispanic population is still the largest racial group in the United States, but that is followed by people who identified on their census forms as “some other” racial category, alone or in combination, representing 49.9 million — a 129 percent increase. That surpasses the population identifying as Black or African American, which was at 46.9 million, which was still an increase over the 38.9 million reported in 2010, but now making up 14.2 percent of the total U.S. population when identifying as Black or African American alone or in combination. This Hispanic or Latino population, which includes people of any race, was at 62.1 million, increasing 23 percent from 2010.
The new numbers reflect expert predictions that showed Hispanic, Black and Asian American populations would continue expanding.
“The diversity that we’re seeing in this country is going to be much more pronounced,” said William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, according to USA Today.
In 2000, only 6.8 million U.S. residents reported being more than one race. In 2020, that number jumped to 33.8 million, according to the numbers. For the 2020 Census, there were two separate questions to calculate race and ethnicity with one focused on Hispanic or Latino origin. The other, focused specifically on race.
“The improvements and changes enable a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify, yielding a more accurate portrait of how people report their Hispanic origin and race within the context of a two-question format,” said Jones.
The results from the 2020 census are meant to be a snapshot of the population as of April 1, 2020. States then use census data to determine everything from legislative and congressional districts to the distribution of budget funds and more.
One of the most important things that happens as a result of the 10-year census count is apportionment of Congressional seats. Population increases in some states and decreases in others results in a change of the makeup of the federal legislature. While each state gets two Senate seats, where the 435 members of the House of Representatives will sit can change.
Because of the movement of the data, Texas gains two more seats in the House while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon get one. Seven other states, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each lost a seat.