The United States is in the midst of the greatest sea change of population relocation, community shifts and increased ethnic diversity in the nation’s history. Those born in the year 2000 entered a country where 75% of the population was white; by the time these Americans reach age 45, less than half of the nation will be of one racial composition, according to US Census Bureau estimates.
As we stand roughly at the midpoint of this historic transition, NeighborWho analyzed recently released 2020 Decennial US Census data to better understand this trend and how it may play out across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Based on the current rate of change, we also estimated what year each state may grow to where no one race or ethnicity comprises 50% or more of population.
A more diverse America
The number of people identifying as a race other than white, or as “more than one race,” continues to grow, bringing the US closer to becoming a “majority-minority nation,” in which no one group remains the dominant racial or ethnic group.
This transition—estimated to be complete around 2045—is happening unevenly but throughout the country. A few states and regions were already “majority-minority” by the 2020 Decennial US Census; others are very close and some are more slowly becoming more diverse.
By the end of this decade, we predict four of the top five states by population will cross the majority-minority line. By 2050, we estimate 25 states and the District of Columbia will have a population that is less than 50% of any one racial or ethnic group.
- As of 2020, only three states had majority-minority populations. Officially, along with the District of Columbia, there are three states—California, Hawaii and Maryland—in which no one racial classification population occupies the majority. In 2010, this was true for only Hawaii and DC.
- As of 2021, we estimate three more states crossed the line. Based on the growth trends over the past 10 years, we project three more states should be added to the majority-minority list: Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.
- Five more states are projected to cross the line this decade. Based on current trends, we project Georgia (2023), New Jersey (2024), Florida and New York (both 2025) and Arizona (2029) will cross over this threshold before the end of the decade.
- By 2050, 15 more states are projected to cross over. We estimate a raft of states will become majority-minority between 2030 and 2050: Illinois (2032); Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana and Virginia (2033); Connecticut (2035); Oklahoma and Washington (2036); Massachusetts (2039); Colorado, Mississippi and North Carolina (2040); Rhode Island (2042); Oregon (2048); and Arkansas (2050).
|State||Majority-minority crossover year|
|District of Columbia||pre-2010|
An important caveat: We based these findings solely on the rate of change from 2010 to 2020 (see methodology for details). We did not analyze other factors that could impact this trend, such as immigration, birth and death rates or life expectancy. Still, the results largely correspond with previous estimates the US will be less than 50% of any one racial ethnic group around the year 2045.
Top national takeaways: 2020 Decennial Census
Below we examine how this transition is playing out on the state level among the six largest population groups as identified by the US Census Bureau: White, more than one race, Hispanic or Latino, Black, Asian and other races.
Some key points from the 2020 Decennial Census data compared to 2010:
- In 2020, 61.6% of the population identifies as “white,” down from 72.4% in 2010.
- People who identified as white dropped in every state between 2010 and 2020; however, in the District of Columbia, that population rose to 39.6%, a little more than a 1% increase from 2010.
- The number of people who identify as two or more races increased to 10.2% from 2.9%.
- Those identifying as Hispanic/Latino are approaching 1 in 5 Americans, increasing to 18.7% from 16% in 2010.
- Those identifying as Black or African American alone dropped to 12.4% from 12.6% in 2010; however, those who identified as Black or African American alone or in combination with other races rose to 14.2% from 13.6% in 2010.
- Those who identified as some other race jumped to 8.4%, up from 6.2% from 2010.
- The Asian population in 2020 grew to 5.9%, up from 4.8% in 2010.
- States that saw the greatest overall decrease in white population as a total percent of population from 2010 were Texas (-20.3 percentage points), Florida and New Mexico (-17.4% each), California (-16.4%) and Nevada (-15%).
- States and areas with the lowest percentage of white population: Hawaii (22.9%), District of Columbia (39.6%), California (41.2%), Maryland (48.7%) and Texas (50.1%).
Also, white Americans appear to be getting older and having fewer children. According to Pew Research Center, the most common age for white Americans is 58, which is more than double for any other racial group.
“Looking at the racial and ethnic makeup of US children under the age of 18, the 2020 white population has already gone below 50%,” Eckardt said.
“More than one race” population
The number of people identifying as more than one race was the fastest-growing racial groups in the US, jumping from just 2.9% in 2010 to 10.2% of population in 2020.
- States that saw the greatest overall increase in people who identify as two or more races from 2010 were New Mexico (up 16.2 percentage points), Texas (14.9%), Florida (14%), Arizona (10.5%) and California (9.7%).
- States that have the highest percentage of population who identify as two or more races are Hawaii (25.3%), New Mexico (20%), Texas (17.6%), Florida (16.5%) and California (14.5%). States with the lowest: Mississippi (3.7%), West Virginia (4.7%), Maine (4.8%), Alabama (5.1%) and South Dakota (5.3%).
“Another possible explanation is that people are simply becoming more racially aware, especially with the explosion of at-home genetic testing kits,” said Eckardt. “These new insights can erase old ideas about race.”
Hispanic or LatinX population
After white, Hispanic is the second largest racial or ethnic group in the US, though it still represents a minority. In 2010, 16% of the population identified as Hispanic. In 2020, that number grew to 18.7%.
- States that saw the greatest increase in Hispanic population from 2010 are Rhode Island, whose Hispanic population in 2020 rose 4.2 percentage points, followed by Florida (4%), Connecticut and New Jersey (3.9%) and Maryland (3.7%).
- States that have the highest percentage of population who identify as Hispanic or Latino are New Mexico (47.7%), California (39.4%), Texas (39.3%), Arizona (30.7%) and Nevada (28.7%). Lowest were West Virginia and Maine (2%), Vermont (2.4%), Mississippi (3.6%) and Montana (4.2%).
Some of the increase in Hispanic population share is skewed by overall state population numbers. For example, Rhode Island and Connecticut are two of the smallest states in the nation. Minor changes in population percentages can therefore result in larger overall percentage changes.
However, outside of these states, there is considerable overlap between states with the largest growing Hispanic populations, the states with the largest Hispanic populations, those with the largest percentage of people identifying as more than one race and the states with the fastest-growing non-white populations.
One key factor is immigration: Mexican-born Americans represent around 25% of the nation’s immigrants, according to Pew. Many of these individuals settle along border states, which have experienced some of the biggest demographic changes since 2010.
Black or African American population
Black or African American is the third largest racial group in the United States and held relatively steady the past decade with 12.1% of the population in 2020, slightly down from 12.6% in 2010.
Here’s a look at what is going on at the state level:
- States that saw the greatest percentage increase in black population from 2010 were North Dakota (up 2.3 percentage points), Minnesota (1.8%), Nevada (1.7%), Iowa (1.2%) and South Dakota (0.8%).
- States and regions that have the highest percentage of African American population are the District of Columbia (41.5%), followed by Mississippi (36.6%), Louisiana (31.4%), Georgia (31%) and Maryland (29.5%). States with the lowest black population are Montana (0.5%), Idaho and Wyoming (0.9%), Utah (1.2%) and Vermont (1.4%).
Most states (31 of 50) saw an increase in the percentage of people identifying as Black or African American only, led by North Dakota, which saw its black population rise 2.3% as a percent of total population since 2010.
This data suggests that, unlike the Hispanic population, whose growth is fueled by immigration, changes on a state-by-state level of Black population are more likely because of internal migration.
“Also, the growing number of people who identify as multiracial may be impacting percentages here,” Eckardt said.
The percentage of people in the US identifying as Asian has grown since 2010, from 4.8% to 6%. Asians make up around 28% of all US immigrants, collectively the largest group, although natives of Mexico represent the largest immigrant population coming from just one country.
- States that saw the greatest percent increase in Asian populations from 2010 are California and Washington (up 2.3 percentage points), New York (2.2%), New Jersey (2%) and Massachusetts (1.9%).
- States that have the highest percentage of Asian populations are Hawaii (37.2%), California (15.4%), New Jersey (10.2%), New York (9.6%) and Washington (9.5%). Lowest were Montana (0.8%), West Virginia (0.7%), Wyoming (0.8%), Mississippi (1.1%) and Maine (1.2%).
In Hawaii, 36% of the population identifies as Asian, more than double that of any other state.
“Other race” population
While the US Census lists out a number of different racial groups for respondents to choose from, there are plenty it does not include.
Overall, 8.4% of the population identifies as “other,” which is up from 6.2% in 2010.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the different states:
- States that saw the greatest percentage increase identifying as “other race” were New Jersey (up 4.9 percentage points), California (4.2%), Florida (3.6%), New York (3.5%) and Rhode Island (3.4%).
- States with the highest percentage of population who identify with a race group other than the seven major groups tracked by the Census Bureau are California (21.2%), New Mexico (15.1%), Nevada (14%), Texas (13.6%) and Arizona (12.6%). States with the lowest percentage are Maine and West Virginia (0.7%), Vermont (0.8%), Montana (1.3%) and North Dakota (0.5%).!(https://nw-content.neighborwho.com/fit-in/980x0/filters:format(jpeg)/filters:quality(60)/2022-03-18-Race + States_ Other Change v3.png)
No nation has a larger foreign-born population, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center study, approaching a record number at nearly 14% of the population.
NeighborWho analyzed US Census Bureau’s 2010 and 2020 Decennial data to determine its findings. Pew Research Center data and Brookings Institution data also used in this study.
The study uses racial and ethnic descriptions as currently determined by the US Census Bureau:
White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
Hispanic or LatinX: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand and Vietnam.
More than one race: A person who identifies as a combination of races.
Some other race: A person whose response not included in the “White”, “Black or African American”, “American Indian and Alaska Native”, “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” race categories.
Factors such as immigration, emigration, birth rates, death rates, life expectancy and other factors that may influence future population trends are not included in this data study.
For more information, contact Kerry Sherin, [email protected].
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