Paul Overberg and John McCormick at WSJ:
The first detailed results of the 2020 census show a diversifying nation where the total white population shrank for the first time in its history and where large metropolitan areas, especially in the South and Southwest, saw the strongest growth.
The non-Hispanic white population dropped 2.6% between 2010 and 2020, a decline that puts that group’s share of the total U.S. population below 60%. The number of people who identify as more than one race or ethnicity grew at the fastest rate of any group, partly due to changes that captured more detailed responses.
The nation’s population grew just 7.4% during the decade, the second slowest on record for a decennial census. Only the 1930s—the era of the Great Depression—saw slower growth. Slightly more than half, or 51%, of the total U.S. population growth in the latest period came from increases among Hispanic or Latino residents, the Census Bureau said.
The new data show an overall aging of the nation’s population. Those under age 18 totaled 73.1 million, or 22.1% of the U.S. population in 2020, a 1.4% decrease from 74.2 million in 2010. The decline was partly due to lower fertility rates in recent years, the Census Bureau said.
As many cities and suburbs expanded, the bureau said, the trend toward rural depopulation continued during the decade. More than half of U.S. counties—52%—had smaller populations in 2020 than in 2010.
“Population growth was almost entirely in metropolitan areas,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer for the Census Bureau.
The cores of metro areas with more than a million people grew 9.1%, while their suburbs grew 10.3%, a Wall Street Journal analysis of the new data shows. Smaller metro areas grew 7.1%. By contrast, small towns and rural areas saw their combined populations drop 0.6%.
The data also showed that the share of the white population fell from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020, the lowest on record, though white people continue to be the most prevalent racial or ethnic group. In California, Hispanics became the largest racial or ethnic group, growing from 37.6% to 39.4%, while the share of white people dropped from 40.1% to 34.7%.
Some demographers cautioned that the white population was not shrinking as much as shifting to multiracial identities. The number of people who identified as belonging to two or more races more than tripled from 9 million people in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020. They now account for 10% of the U.S. population.