America’s White Population Shrank for 1st Time in US History, Census Data Show
The share of the white population fell to 57.8 percent (191,697,647) in 2020 from 63.7 percent (196,817,552) a decade prior, the data show. In California, Hispanics became the largest racial or ethnic group, growing to 39.4 percent from 37.6 percent over the previous decade, while the white population dipped to 34.7 percent from 40.1 percent.
There were also significant increases among people who identify as multiracial, Hispanic, and Asian, driving much of the population growth throughout the decade. People who identify as multiracial increased by 276 percent, to 33.8 million in 2020 from 9 million in 2010.
The largest gains were among Hispanics, who now make up 18.7 percent of the population, the data show.
Overall, the U.S. population grew by just 7.4 percent during the previous decade, which is the second slowest growth on record, according to the census data. The population grew to 331.4 million in 2020 from roughly 308.7 million in 2010. Only the decade spanning the 1930s—when the Great Depression occurred—had a slower growth rate.
The opioid epidemic and lower birth rates among white millennials accelerated the decline in the white population, the Brookings Institution’s William Frey said in a Washington Post interview.
The bureau also noted that as suburbs and cities persistently grew, rural depopulation increased during the decade.
New York remained the largest U.S. city, netting a population gain of 7.7 percent. Among the country’s 10 largest cities, Phoenix saw the greatest percentage-point gain—11.2 percent—during the decade.
Overall, the data show that New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix are the five largest cities in the United States.
Buckeye, a suburb of Phoenix, saw its population increase by nearly 80 percent to lead the nation. And The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, the census data show.
“Population growth this decade was almost entirely in metro areas,” Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau, said in a statement to media outlets. “Texas is a good example of this, where parts of the Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas–Fort Worth, Midland, and Odessa metro areas had population growth, whereas many of the state’s other counties had population declines.”
The data, which offer demographic and racial details of every community down to the block level, arrived months later than originally expected after the census took longer to complete due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay forced some states to go to court to postpone their redistricting deadlines.
States use the data to redraw district lines for the U.S. House of Representatives after each decennial census, based on where people now reside.
Reuters contributed to this report.