US became more diverse, metro areas grew in last decade, census data shows

on Aug12
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The U.S. population has grown increasingly diverse, while its growth overall has declined compared to previous decades.

Those were among the key findings from the data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the result of the 2020 census aimed at counting the number of people living in the country.


“The White alone non-Hispanic population was the largest — or most prevalent — racial or ethnic group for most counties in the United States,” the Census Bureau said in a document released Thursday afternoon, while noting that “other racial or ethnic groups were the most prevalent in certain parts of the country[.]”

Specifically the data showed that Black Americans who did not identify as Hispanic were the largest demographic group in certain areas in the South. Likewise, Hispanic populations were the largest groups in parts of the Southwest and West.

Hispanic people made up the second-largest ethnic group in many counties across the country, where Black Americans were the second-largest group in much of the South.

That metric, known as prevalence ranking, is just one method employed to determine the country’s level of diversity. Another is “diversity index” which is the percent chance that two random people from an area will be of different races. That number has increased since the last census in 2010.

The counties in the U.S. with the highest diversity index for 2020 are Hawaii County and Maui County in Hawaii, followed by Queens County, N.Y.

As diversity increased, so did the populations of metropolitan areas, although not at the rates they have in the past. Fewer metro areas saw growth of more than 10% from 2010 to 2020 compared to the decade before, and metro areas that declined in population – while not the majority – could be found in every region. Every metropolitan area in Puerto Rico declined in population.


At the same time, however, the Census Bureau said during a presentation that the U.S. population as a whole is “increasingly metropolitan” compared to years past. In 2020, 86.3% of the country’s population lived in metropolitan areas, compared to 84.3% in 2000.

The largest city in the U.S. by population is New York City, which at more than 8.8 million grew by 7.7% from 2010 to 2020. By comparison, it grew by just 2.1% the previous decade. Chicago declined by 6.9%, but remains the third largest city by population.

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