Nation/World

Census data shows the number of white people in the US fell for first time since 1790

The first race and ethnicity breakdowns from the 2020 Census, released Thursday, show a more diverse nation than ever in the nation’s history.

The report marks the first time the absolute number of people who identify as white alone has shrunk since a census started being taken in 1790. The white population fell from 223.6 million in 2010 to 204.3 million in 2020, a decrease of 8.6%.

The country also passed another milestone on its way to becoming a majority-minority society in the coming decades: For the first time, the portion of white people dipped below 60%, slipping from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020.

The new data shows how the ethnic, racial and voting-age makeup of neighborhoods shifted over the past decade, based on the national house-to-house canvass last year. It is the data most state legislatures and local governments use to redraw political districts for the next 10 years.

It indicates that the county is “much more multiracial and much more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past,” said Nicholas Jones, director and senior adviser of race and ethnic research and outreach at the Census Bureau’s population division.

The opioid epidemic and lower-than-anticipated birth rates among millennials after the Great Recession accelerated the white population’s decline, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

“Twenty years ago if you told people this was going to be the case, they wouldn’t have believed you,” he said of the white decline. “The country is changing dramatically.”

The number of people who identify themselves as multiracial has changed considerably since 2010. It was measured at 9 million people in 2010 and is now 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase.

In April, 2020 Census state population totals showed the country grew by just 7.4% in the past decade, more slowly than any decade except the 1930s. The states with the most growth were in the West and the South, which have seen an influx of people moving in from other countries and other states.

The largest and most steady gains were among Hispanics, who doubled their population share over the past three decades to 62.1 million people, or 18.7%, in 2020 and who are believed to account for half of the nation’s growth since 2010.

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