Census: 1 in 6 Americans are Hispanic

Nation has also seen vast multiracial growth since 2000

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Updated: March 24, 2011, 10:18 PM

 

Local angle

The 2010 Census counted 32,166 Hispanics in Clark County, or 7.6 percent of the county’s total population, which was 425,363. In 2000, Hispanics totaled 16,248, or 4.7 percent of the total Clark County population.

Statewide, about 11 percent of the state’s population identified itself as Hispanic, according to the 2010 Census. The total, about 755,000 people, reflected a 71.2 percent increase from the 2000 Census.

Also in 2010, 4 percent of Clark County residents, or 17,219 people, identified themselves as being of two or more races. That compares with 4.7 percent of all Washingtonians.

WASHINGTON — Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population increase over the last decade, exceeding estimates in most states as they crossed a new census milestone: 50 million, or 1 in 6 Americans.

Meanwhile, more than 9 million Americans checked two or more race categories on their 2010 census forms, up 32 percent from 2000, a sign of burgeoning multiracial growth in an increasingly minority nation.

The Census Bureau on Thursday released its first set of national-level findings from the 2010 count on race and migration, detailing a decade in which rapid minority growth, aging whites and the housing boom and bust were the predominant story lines.

Analysts said the results confirmed a demographic transformation under way that is upending traditional notions of racial minorities, political swing districts, even city and suburb.

“These are big demographic changes,” said Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau. “There is going to be some culture shock, especially in communities that haven’t had high numbers of immigrants or minorities in the past.”

“By 2050, we may have an entirely new system of defining ourselves,” he said.

According to data released Thursday, Americans continued their decades-long migration to fast-growing parts of the Sun Belt. Their move to big states such as California and Texas, as well as fast-growing Mountain West states pushed the nation’s mean center of population roughly 30 miles southwest to a spot near the village of Plato, Mo.

African-Americans in search of wider spaces increasingly left big cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New York for the suburbs, typically in the South. Both Michigan and Illinois had their first declines in the black population since statehood as many of their residents opted for warmer climes in the suburbs of places such as Atlanta, Dallas and Houston.

The smaller numbers were a surprise to some city officials, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who questioned the census count of 8.2 million for his city and suggested immigrants may have been missed.

Census director Robert Groves said the agency had not yet received any formal complaints about the census count and added that overall indicators showed high accuracy in 2010 compared to 2000.

After initial fears of low participation, the 2010 count of the Hispanic population came in 900,000 higher than expected, matching or surpassing census estimates in 37 states, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

Many of the biggest jumps were in the South, including Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina and Louisiana, where a small but fast-growing Hispanic population was fueled by an influx of immigrants during the housing boom.

Multiracial Americans now make up 2.9 percent of the U.S. population, a steadily growing group — even if it did not include President Barack Obama, who identified himself only as African-American on his census form. Obama’s mother Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas, married his father, the Kenyan native Barack Obama Sr.

The vast majority of multiracial Americans lived in California, Texas, New York and Hawaii. The most numerous race combinations were white-American Indian or Alaskan Native, white-black and white-”some other race.” In some cases, white Hispanics may be opting to list themselves as multiracial in the “some other race” category, which would put the actual number of multiracial Americans lower than the official tally of 9 million.

In all, racial and ethnic minorities made up about 90 percent of the total U.S. growth since 2000, part of a historic trend in which minorities are expected to become the majority by midcentury.

“Hispanics and immigrant minorities are providing a much needed tonic for an older, largely white population which is moving into middle age and retirement,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed many of the census figures. “They will form the bulk of our labor force growth in the next decade as they continue to disperse into larger parts of the country.”

Other census findings

• The number of non-Hispanic whites, whose median age is now 41, edged up slightly to 196.8 million. Declining birth rates meant their share of the total U.S. population dropped over the last decade from 69 percent to roughly 64 percent.

• In about 10 states, the share of children who are minorities has already passed 50 percent, up from five states in 2000. They are Mississippi, Georgia, Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, California, New Mexico and Hawaii.

• Asians grew by 43 percent over the last decade. They were tied with Hispanics as the fastest-growing demographic group. For the first time, Asians also had a larger numeric gain than African-Americans, who remained the second-largest minority group at 37.7 million.

The race figures come as states in the coming months engage in the contentious process of redrawing political districts based on population and racial makeup. The new political maps — which will also change each state’s electoral votes— will take effect by the 2012 elections.