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White U.S. population grows but drops in overall percentage

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
The 2010 U.S. Census reveals a growth in white Americans but a decrease in their fraction of the population.
The 2010 U.S. Census reveals a growth in white Americans but a decrease in their fraction of the population.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. Census Bureau releases more figures from the 2010 survey
  • Hispanic increase fuels growth in the white population
  • Mixed-race populations increase

Washington (CNN) -- New census figures released Thursday for America's white and black populations depicted a nation where most people are white, with increasing numbers of mixed-race inhabitants.

While the number of white residents increased in the past decade, the total fell as a percentage of the overall U.S. population, according to figures from the 2010 census.

Meanwhile, the number of black Americans increased, with those identifying themselves as being of mixed black and white descent more than doubling in the past 10 years, Census Bureau officials said.

Most blacks continue to live in Southern states, though changing population dynamics appear in other parts of the country, particularly the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest, the census figures showed.

Of the total U.S. population in 2010 of just under 309 million people, 231 million were white, or almost 75%. A decade earlier, the white population was about 217 million, or 77% of the almost 282 million total then.

In addition, the white population grew at a slower rate -- 6% -- over the past decade than the total population, which increased by almost 10%, according to census officials.

Much of the 14 million increase in the white population -- 74% -- involved whites of Hispanic origin, as the census distinguished Hispanic ethnicity from race. For example, respondents could identify themselves as white Hispanics, black Hispanics or as Hispanics in any of the other racial categories.

Meanwhile, the number of whites not identified as Hispanics also increased in total from 195 million in 2000 to about 197 million in 2010 but decreased as a percentage of the total population, from 69% in the previous census to 64% in last year's survey.

"It's not surprising that we're seeing that the growth of the white population is due to Hispanics identifying as whites," said Lindsay Hixson, a statistician for the bureau's racial statistics branch in the population division.

People identifying themselves as mixed-race whites increased by 2 million over the decade. Most of the increase was people who reported their race as both black and white, a group that rose to 1.8 million last year, compared with 785,000 in the 2000 census.

The 130% increase was the largest by percentage among any group or subgroup in the white or black populations, the census information showed.

A total of 42 million identified themselves as black alone or in a combination with other races, comprising 14% of the total U.S. population.

According to the latest census, white Hispanic populations showed the greatest increase in the Pacific Northwest, parts of California, the Southwest, Texas, Florida and the Northeast.

Black populations also increased in the Pacific Northwest, California, the Southwest, Florida and the Northeast but decreased in many Southern states. Despite those decreases, more than half of the black population still lived in the South, the 2010 survey showed.

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