Biggest Population Increase: Multiracial People

Analysts say many who previously ticked only 'white' have changed category
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2021 8:56 AM CDT
Biggest Population Increase: Multiracial People
Pedestrians cross 23rd Street in New York, which is still the nation's biggest city.   (Getty Images/deberarr)

(Newser) – The fastest-growing population group in America ticked more than one box in the race question on the 2020 census. According to census data released Thursday, the number of multiracial Americans, which the Census Bureau refers to as the "Two or More Races population," surged by 276% between 2010 and 2020, from 9 million to 33.8 million. The 2020 count found that the white population dropped for the first time in US history, though analysts believe part of the decrease is due to people who previously put themselves in the white category switching to more than one race. "The census is doing a much better job at reflecting the growing complexity of the population,” sociologist Richard Alba tells the New York Times. "They are really trying to acknowledge that the world is changing out there."

Analysts say the census shows the increasing diversity of America, as well as the difficulty of getting an accurate picture of a constantly shifting multiracial population. The census found that "Other"—those who didn't identify as white, Black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander—is now the second-largest group after white at 49.9 million, though experts say this could largely be due to uncertainty among Hispanic Americans, who are not counted as a race, the AP reports. Proposals to make the questions clearer stalled under the Trump administration, reports NPR. Advocates who had pushed for a separate box for Americans of Middle Eastern and North African origin, who are currently categorized as white, say they are disappointed that the change wasn't made for the 2020 census. (Read more census stories.)

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