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Tomás Jiménez quoted in the New York Times

Photo of Tomas Jimenez

Census Shows Sharply Growing Numbers of Hispanic, Asian and Multiracial Americans

Overall population growth slowed substantially over the past decade, but the number of multiracial Americans more than doubled.

The United States grew significantly more diverse over the past decade, as the populations of people who identify as Hispanic and Asian surged and the number of people who said they were more than one race more than doubled, the Census Bureau reported on Thursday. Overall population growth slowed substantially over the past decade, but the growth that did occur — an increase of about 23 million people — was made up entirely of people who identified as Hispanic, Asian, Black and more than one race, according to the data, the first racial and ethnic breakdown from the 2020 census.

The white population declined for the first time in history. People who identify themselves as white on the census form have been decreasing as a share of the country’s population since the 1960s, when the United States lifted strict ethnic quotas aimed at keeping the country Northern and Western European. That drop, of 2.6 percent, was driven in part by the aging of the white population — the median age was 44 in 2019, compared with 30 for Hispanics — and a long-running decline in the birthrate. Some social scientists theorized that another potential reason for the decrease was that more Americans who previously identified as white on the census are now choosing more than one race.

The single biggest population increase was among people who identified as more than one race, a category that first appeared on census forms 20 years ago, and now is the fastest-growing racial and ethnic category. People who identify as white now make up 58 percent of the population, down from 64 percent in 2010, and 69 percent in 2000.

“We are in a weird time demographically,” said Tomás Jiménez, a sociologist at Stanford University who writes about immigrants, assimilation and social mobility. “There’s more choice about our individual identities and how we present them than there has ever been. We can presume far less about who somebody is based on the boxes they check compared to previous periods.”

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