2020 census shows America is changing

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, August 24, 2021

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The United States population is getting more diverse, according to new data from the 2020 census that offers a once-in-a-decade look at the makeup of America.
Over the past 10 years, people who identified as Hispanic, Asian or more than one race accounted for larger shares of the population, the data shows. Diversity is rising in almost every county. The overall U.S. population, though, grew at the slowest rate in nearly a century.
William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, described the data as “a pivotal moment for the country.”
“We have people of color who are younger and growing more rapidly,” he told The Times’s Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff. “They are helping to propel us further into a century where diversity is going to be the signature of our demography.”
Here are some takeaways from the new data.
The share of people who identify as white has been declining since the 1960s, when the U.S. opened up more widely to immigrants from outside Europe. But over the past decade, the total number of white people fell for the first time.
The total population has grown at a drastically slower rate over the past decade. As David Leonhardt has explained in this newsletter, slower population growth can expand economic opportunities for women. But it also reflects American society’s failure to support families.
The growth that did occur since 2010 — an increase of about 23 million people — was made up entirely of people who identified as Hispanic, Asian, Black or more than one race.
The multiracial category, added to the census only 20 years ago, is the fastest-growing group in the U.S. That could account for some of the decline of the white population, social scientists say; people of more than one race who previously chose white on the census form can now answer more accurately.
Fast-growing cities
The fastest-growing big city in the country is Phoenix, which surpassed Philadelphia as the fifth largest. Immigration, a tech boom and middle-class Californians seeking affordable housing all contributed to Phoenix’s growth, The Times’s Jack Healy explains.
The change in Phoenix reflects a trend: All 10 of the largest U.S. cities saw their populations rise in the past decade. Three big cities in Texas — Houston, San Antonio and Dallas — outpaced the national average.

New York City also grew by nearly 8 percent, defying predictions that its population was on the decline. The city now accounts for nearly 44 percent of the state’s total population.
The metro area that grew fastest since the last census, though, was not a major city; it was The Villages, America’s largest retirement community, located outside Orlando, Fla.
The new census data will launch an intense scramble to redraw districts for the House of Representatives, which states do once per decade. Legislatures control redistricting in most states and can draw gerrymandered congressional maps that advantage their party, which will help determine who will win control of the House in next year’s midterm elections.
The data was less favorable to Republicans than some experts expected, The Times’s Nate Cohn writes. Rural areas and white people’s share of the population shrank, while traditionally Democratic cities and increasingly Democratic suburbs grew.
But Republican-controlled legislatures will still get to redraw 187 maps, compared to Democrats’ 84. “The parties do not compete on a level playing field,” our colleague Nick Corasaniti, who covers politics, told us. “While it is still very early to fully grasp the impact” of the new data, “it is perhaps most important to remember who will be drawing the maps.”
(From the New York Times)

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