The New Census Figures: a Breakdown

The Census Bureau last week released preliminary results from its 2020 Census, showing a United States in the midst of demographic transition.

The 2020 Census results show an increase in populations of U.S. metro areas compared to a decade ago. In addition, these once-a-decade results showed just how quickly the nation is diversifying in race and ethnicity, with the white population showing a noticeable decline compared to other groups.

These statistics, which come from the 2020 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File, also provide the first look at populations for small areas and include information on Hispanic origin, race, age 18 and over, housing occupancy and group quarters. They represent where people were living as of April 1, 2020, and are available for the nation, states and communities down to the block level.

Population Changes Across the Country Since 2010 Census

The report details changes in size and distribution of the population across the United States. The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.

“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau. “This decline is evident at the local level where around 52% of the counties in the United States saw their 2020 Census populations decrease from their 2010 Census populations.”

County and metro area highlights:

  • The largest county in the United States in 2020 remains Los Angeles County with more than 10 million people.
  • The largest city (incorporated place) in the United States in 2020 remains New York with 8.8 million people.
  • 312 of the 384 U.S. metro areas gained population between 2010 and 2020.
  • The fastest-growing U.S. metro area between the 2010 Census and 2020 Census was The Villages, Fla., which grew 39% from 93,000 people to 130,000 people.
  • 72 U.S. metro areas lost population from the 2010 Census to the 2020 Census. The U.S. metro areas with the largest percentage declines were Pine Bluff, Ark., and Danville, Ill., at -12.5 percent and -9.1 percent, respectively.

Findings on Race and Ethnicity

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 U.S. population. Census said improvements and changes enabled a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify, yielding a more accurate portrait of how people report their Hispanic origin and race within the context of a two-question format. Nicholas Jones, director and senior advisor for race and ethnicity research and outreach at the Census Bureau, said these changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.

Race and ethnicity highlights:

  • 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 White alone population decreased by 8.6% since 2010.
  • The Two or More Races population (also referred to as the Multiracial population) changed considerably since 2010. The Multiracial population was measured at 9 million people in 2010 and is now 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase.
  • The “in combination” multiracial populations for all race groups accounted for most of the overall changes in each racial category.
  • All of the race alone or in combination groups experienced increases. The Some Other Race alone or in combination group (49.9 million) increased 129%, surpassing the Black or African American population (46.9 million) as the second-largest race alone or in combination group.
  • The next largest racial populations were the Asian alone or in combination group (24 million), the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination group (9.7 million), and the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination group (1.6 million).
  • The Hispanic or Latino population, which includes people of any race, was 62.1 million in 2020. The Hispanic or Latino population grew 23%, while the population that was not of Hispanic or Latino origin grew 4.3% since 2010.

In general, the states with the highest DI scores are found in the West (Hawaii, California and Nevada), the South (Maryland and Texas; along with the District of Columbia, a state equivalent), and the Northeast (New York and New Jersey).

Hawaii had the highest Diversity Index score in 2020 at 76%, which was slightly higher than 2010 (75.1%).

Adult and Under-Age-18 Populations

The 2020 Census showed the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.

“More than three-quarters, 77.9%, of the U.S. population were age 18 and over,” said Andrew Roberts, chief of the Sex and Age Statistics Branch in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “The adult population grew faster than the nation as a whole. By comparison, the population under age 18 was 73.1 million in 2020, a decline of 1.4% from the 2010 Census.”

Changes to the adult and under-age-18 populations:

  • The District of Columbia had the largest population age 18 and over as a percentage of population at 83.4%. Utah had the largest population under age 18 as a percentage of population at 29.0%.
  • Utah also had the fastest-growing adult population at 22.8% growth.
  • North Dakota had the fastest-growing population under age 18 at 22.1% growth.

Additional age breakdowns will be available in future 2020 Census data releases scheduled for 2022.

2020 Census Housing Units

The 2020 Census showed that on April 1, 2020, there were 140,498,736 housing units in the United States, up 6.7% from the 2010 Census.

“While the national number of housing units grew over the past decade, this was not uniform throughout the country,” said Evan Brassell, chief of the Housing Statistics Branch in the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division. “Counties that composed some part of a metropolitan or micropolitan area saw increases of 3.8%, on average, while counties outside of these areas showed decreases of 3.9% on average.”

State highlights:

  • Texas had the largest numeric growth in housing units with 1,611,888.
  • The county with the largest percent increase in housing was McKenzie County, N.D., with a 147.9% increase.
  • West Virginia and Puerto Rico were the only two states or state equivalents that lost housing units.
  • Census reported 126,817,580 occupied housing units and 13,681,156 vacant units in the United States.

Housing unit statistics for the nation, states and counties are available in the 2020 Population and Housing data visualization. More information is available in the following America Counts stories: Growth in Housing Units Slowed in the Last Decade and U.S. Housing Vacancy Rate Declined in Past Decade.

Census Findings on Group Quarters

The U.S. population for group quarters was 8,239,016 as of April 1, 2020, an increase of 3.2% over the 2010 Census group quarters population. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled-nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities and workers’ dormitories.

“In 2020, the group quarters population represented 2.5% of the total U.S. population, down from 2.6% in 2010,” said Steven Wilson, chief of the Population and Housing Programs Branch in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “We also saw that college and university student housing was the most populous group living arrangement at 2,792,097, up 10.7% since 2010.”

Group quarters highlights:

  •  The second-largest group quarters population was correctional facilities for adults at 1,967,297, which decreased from the 2010 Census by 296,305 (13.1%).
  • The state with the largest group quarters population was California at 917,932, with the largest share of that population counted at other noninstitutional group quarters.
  •  The group quarters population in Puerto Rico decreased 1.2% since 2010 to 37,509.

Read more about these results in the America Counts story, 8.2 Million People Counted at U.S. Group Quarters in the 2020 Census