U.S. Census: Changes in U.S. Racial and Ethnic Populations from 2000 to 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau has released another level of data from the latest census conducted last year.  This data brief provides an explanation of how the categories or “race” and “ethnicity” are currently used in the census and analyses the changes in racial and ethnic populations.

Under these definitions, “Hispanic” is the only ethnicity.  According to the 2010 census, there were 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S., composing 16% of the total population. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43%, increasing from 35.3 million in 2000, when this group made up 13% of the total U.S. population.

Meanwhile, among the “race” categories (data for one race responses only), the Asian population increased by 43% between 2000 and 2010, more than any other race group. The Asian population had the second- largest numeric change (4.4 million), growing from 10.2 million in 2000 to 14.7 million in 2010.  The Asian population also increased the most in its share of the total population, moving up from about 4% in 2000 to about 5% in 2010.

The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population, the smallest race group, also grew substantially between 2000 and 2010, increasing by more than one-third. This population numbered 398,835 in 2000, rising to 540,013 in 2010, with its proportion of the total population changing from 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent.

The American Indian and Alaska Native population had an 18% increase between 2000 and 2010. This population maintained its proportion of the total population between decennial censuses (0.9%) while growing from 2.5 million to 2.9 million.

While the Black population had the third-largest numeric increase in population size over the decade (4.3 million), it grew slower than other race groups, increasing 12% between 2000 and 2010.  This population rose from 34.7 million in 2000 to 38.9 million in 2010, from 12% to 13% of the total population.

Finally,  while the White population increased the most numerically between decennial censuses (211.5 million to 223.6 million), its share of the total population fell from 75% in 2000 to 72% in 2010.

However, there were more reports of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders in combination with one or more additional races than there were of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander reporting a single race (0.7 million and 0.5 million, respectively).   And almost as many people indicated American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more additional races as people who indicated American Indian and Alaska Native alone (2.3 million and 2.9 million, respectively).

Accordingly, users of this census data need to specify how the ethnicity, race alone and race in combination data are used.

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