Census Bureau releases long-awaited data from 2020 survey

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 7:02 PM ET, Thu August 12, 2021
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6:56 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

CNN's Tom Foreman breaks down the biggest takeaways from today's Census data release

The 2020 data released by the Census today will help determine some crucial outcomes across the country, including how many leaders represent you in Congress and how billions of dollars in federal funding are spent.

While the US population saw its slowest growth since 1930 to 1940 — the decade of the Great Depression — the demographics of the population shifted, and the results show how much the country's ethnic and racial makeup changed.

Watch Foreman explain the takeaways:

6:11 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Census data shows the urgency to protect of voter rights, civil rights leaders say

From CNN's Nicole Chavez and Nicquel Terry Ellis 

The new data released by the US Census on Thursday signals the urgency to protect voter rights and "quantifies" the growing diversity of the country, said the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of National Action Network.

"When it comes to choice and power in politics, marginalized groups that built this country have been silenced historically and many across racial lines are galvanizing to oppose the assaults on voting rights," Sharpton said in a statement. "With the distribution of these results—and the consequences on political representation—it is clear the struggle for a political voice will continue. The census results underscore the urgent need for Congress to move forward and ensure that the political voice of every American is heard.”

While the data shows the country is more diverse than ever, Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and chairman of the Drum Major Institute, says history has shown there will be backlash.

"Some elected officials are afraid that if they embrace a more diverse America, they will lose their power. Those same people are willing to weaponize the new Census data to gerrymander the vote and rig the system against Black and Brown Americans," he said in a statement. 

"We need federal legislation to stop it because, in a democracy, voters choose their representatives, not the other way around. As my father always said, a voteless people is a powerless people. We’re marching to end gerrymandering and make sure every vote is counted equally," King III said in reference to the upcoming March on Washington on Aug. 28. 

6:52 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

One North Dakota county saw its population boom — and so did its housing

North Dakota saw major growth in population and one county saw increases in housing, 2020 Census data shows.

McKenzie County had the largest percent increase in housing, seeing a 147.9% increase.

The state also had the fastest-growing population under the age of 18 at 22.1%

Almost all of the nation's population growth was in its cities. ​​More than half of all counties saw their population decline since 2010. The largest county population increase was in McKenzie County, which grew by more than 130% since 2010.

Cities have grown faster than the nation as a whole. Population in metro areas grew by 8.7% since 2010. The US population grew from roughly 308.7 million in 2010 to 331.4 million, a 7.35% increase. That's the slowest population growth since 1930-1940 — the decade of the Great Depression.

The Census Bureau's decennial count was released Thursday after being delayed several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The data includes detailed demographic breakdowns of everyone living in the United States as of April 1, 2020, down to the neighborhood level.

5:50 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

People of color represented 43% of the total US population in 2020, up from 34% in 2010, Census data shows

Nicholas Jones, the director and senior adviser of race and ethnic research and outreach in the US Census Bureau's population division, said analysis of the 2020 Census data shows "the US population is much more multiracial, and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past."

The results of 2020 survey provide a snapshot of how much of a transformation took place on the local level:

  • People of color represented 43% of the total US population in 2020, up from 34% in 2010.
  • The non-Hispanic White share of the US population fell to 57% in 2020, shrinking by six percentage points since 2010, the largest decrease of any race or ethnicity.
  • The share of those who identified as Hispanic or Latino or as multiracial grew the most.

The release of this data kicks off the rush for states to redraw their political boundaries ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. All 50 states will use the new data to adjust their congressional and state legislature district lines to reflect the updated count of their residents.

Here's a look at how the 2010 numbers compare to 2020:

Note: The Census retooled their survey for 2020 to ask American residents more detailed questions about how they identify their race and ethnicity. The Census Bureau reported that these and other technical changes "enable a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self identify."

The Census Bureau said comparisons on race and ethnicity between 2010 and 2020 should be "made with caution," though they are "confident that the changes we are seeing from 2010 to 2020 in the diversity measures ... likely reflect actual demographic changes in the population over the past 10 years, as well as improvements to the question designs, data processing and coding."

From CNN's Janie Boschma, Daniel Wolfe, Priya Krishnakumar, Christopher Hickey, Meghna Maharishi, John Keefe and David Wright.

5:50 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Latinos are now the largest racial or ethnic group in California

From CNN's Janie Boschma and Liz Stark

The Hispanic or Latino population officially became the largest racial or ethnic group in California for the first time, according to new 2020 Census data released on Thursday.

The Hispanic or Latino community now represents 39.4% of Californians, an increase from 37.6% in 2010.

The new Census data revealed that America is more diverse and more multiracial than ever before.

The Census retooled their survey for 2020 to ask American residents more detailed questions about how they identify their race and ethnicity. The Census Bureau reported that these and other technical changes “enable a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify.”

The Census Bureau said comparisons on race and ethnicity between 2010 and 2020 should be “made with caution,” though they are “confident that the changes we are seeing from 2010 to 2020 in the diversity measures … likely reflect actual demographic changes in the population over the past 10 years, as well as improvements to the question designs, data processing and coding.”

4:58 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Census shows Latinos are vital to diversity growth, yet they "are actively demonized," advocacy group says

From CNN's Nicole Chavez

Latinos have been the engine of the growth in diversity shown by the newly released Census data for decades but "are actively demonized," said Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, deputy vice president of policy and advocacy at UnidosUS. 

“It’s clear from today’s numbers that Latinos, immigrants and sister communities are revitalizing towns and cities across the country and will be vital to helping the country continue to combat and recover from the pandemic," Martínez-de-Castro said in a statement. 

"Latinos are hardworking people who have contributed to America’s economy and culture for generations. And, like all Americans, they want to take care of their families and contribute to their communities. But despite our contributions to the country, the realities of our lives aren’t always recognized, and worse, in too many cases, we are actively demonized," Martínez-de-Castro added.

The Hispanic or Latino population, which includes people of any race, was 62.1 million in 2020, according to new 2020 Census data released on Thursday. The group grew 23% since 2010. 

In California, the Hispanic or Latino population officially became the largest racial or ethnic group in the state for the first time. The Hispanic or Latino community now represents 39.4% of Californians, an increase from 37.6% in 2010.

5:33 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

What today's Census data could mean for the redistricting process — and the 2022 midterm elections

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The Census Bureau on Thursday released the data used to draw congressional and state legislative district lines, starting a nationwide scramble to draw new boundaries in time for next year's midterm elections.

The data, based on last year's once-a-decade canvassing, showed that population growth in the United States over the past decade has slowed, as 52% of counties have smaller populations in 2020 than they did in 2010. Instead, almost all of the nation's population growth was in its cities, the data showed, a trend sure to highlight the urban-rural divide already prominent in American politics.

"Metro areas are even more prominent this decade as the locations of population growth amidst otherwise widespread population decline," said Marc Perry, senior demographer of the US Census Bureau population Division, at a Census Bureau news conference Thursday.

What this could mean: The declining rural population and increasing concentration of Americans in cities could in some places provide favorable conditions for Democrats — whose voters are more urban than Republicans' rural base — as states begin their processes of drawing new legislative boundaries.

Rural congressional districts that have for the last decade favored Republicans were more likely to see their populations shrink, which means that new versions of those districts would in some cases need to incorporate more voters from urban, Democratic-friendly areas.

However, it won't be clear how the new data will shape the 2022 midterm elections until states complete their new maps in the weeks and months ahead. The data is coming more than four months later than usual — after some states' deadlines to have new maps in place have already passed.

"What we're expecting with the delay is that a number of states are going to run into issues with deadlines that they have for the redistricting process," said Adam Podowitz-Thomas, the senior legal strategist for the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and the Princeton Electoral Innovation Lab, ahead of Thursday's data release.

Some states have constitutional or statutory deadlines — set in anticipation that the Census Bureau would deliver the necessary data on time — that are imminent or in some cases have already been missed.

Read more about today's data here.

5:20 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

There are now 7 states and territories where the non-Hispanic White share of the population is below 50%

2020 Census data showed that non-Hispanic White Americans continue to be the most prevalent group in every state, except for in California, Hawaii and New Mexico, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

There are now seven states and territories where the non-Hispanic White share of the population is below 50%:

  • California
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Maryland
  • Hawaii
  • Puerto Rico

In California, the Hispanic or Latino population officially became the largest racial or ethnic group in the state for the first time. The Hispanic or Latino community now represents 39.4% of Californians, an increase from 37.6% in 2010.

Here's a look at how the White population changed these past 10 years:

Some more context: The Census retooled their survey for 2020 to ask American residents more detailed questions about how they identify their race and ethnicity. The Census Bureau reported that these and other technical changes "enable a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self identify."

The Census Bureau said comparisons on race and ethnicity between 2010 and 2020 should be "made with caution," though they are "confident that the changes we are seeing from 2010 to 2020 in the diversity measures ... likely reflect actual demographic changes in the population over the past 10 years, as well as improvements to the question designs, data processing and coding."

From CNN's By Janie Boschma, Daniel Wolfe, Meghna Maharishi, Priya Krishnakumar, Christopher Hickey and David Wright.

5:19 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Here are some key Census results that show how much the US racial and ethnic composition has changed

From CNN's Janie Boschma and Liz Stark

Nikita Starichenko/Adobe Stock Photo
Nikita Starichenko/Adobe Stock Photo

The Census Bureau's local-level results provided a snapshot of how much the racial and ethnic makeup of the population has shifted since 2010.

According to new 2020 Census data released on Thursday, America is more diverse and more multiracial than ever before.

"Our analysis of the 2020 Census results show that the US population is much more multiracial, and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past,” said Nicholas Jones, the director and senior adviser of race and ethnic research and outreach in the US Census Bureau’s population division.

Non-Hispanic White Americans continue to be the most prevalent group in every state, except for in California, Hawaii and New Mexico, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

In California, the Hispanic or Latino population officially became the largest racial or ethnic group in the state for the first time. The Hispanic or Latino community now represents 39.4% of Californians, an increase from 37.6% in 2010.

The Census retooled their survey for 2020 to ask American residents more detailed questions about how they identify their race and ethnicity. The Census Bureau reported that these and other technical changes “enable a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify.”

The Census Bureau said comparisons on race and ethnicity between 2010 and 2020 should be “made with caution,” though they are “confident that the changes we are seeing from 2010 to 2020 in the diversity measures … likely reflect actual demographic changes in the population over the past 10 years, as well as improvements to the question designs, data processing and coding.”

Here are some other key findings from the data, according to the Census:

  • The White population remained the largest race or ethnicity group in the United States, "with 204.3 million people identifying as White alone." Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group. However, the data showed that the "White alone" population decreased by 8.6% since 2010.
  • The "Two or More Races population" (also referred to as the multiracial population) changed considerably this past decade. The multiracial population was "measured at 9 million people in 2010 and is now 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase."
  • Meanwhile, the Hispanic or Latino population, which includes people of any race, "was 62.1 million in 2020." It grew 23%, while the population that was not of Hispanic or Latino origin grew 4.3% since 2010, the Census said.

The Census noted that the 2020 Census used the "required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race)" to collect the races and ethnicities of the US population.

Remember: In Census Bureau statistics, race and ethnicity are two separate measures. Ethnicity is reported in two categories — as being of Hispanic or Latino origin or not – while race is categorized in one of six broad categories —White, Black or African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and some other race. People taking the Decennial Census are able to indicate multiple races, but they will only be coded as having one response for ethnicity.