Census Data To Show America Becoming Darker And More Liberal
New data from the Census Bureau to be released today is expected to show that dozens of counties across 18 states, largely in the South and Southwest, are now less than 50 percent white, and no racial or ethnic group makes up a majority. The non-Hispanic white population is expected to shrink for the first census on record reported by Nicholas Ricciardi and Mike Schneider of the Associated Press.
The estimates suggest that about 113 million people — a third of all Americans — now live in a plurality county. Virtually all population growth in the U.S. is among people of color, groups long viewed as racial or ethnic minorities.
A first batch of census figures released in April showed that U.S. population growth had slowed to a rate not seen since the Great Depression. The numbers released today will offer details on precisely where white, Asian, Black and Hispanic communities grew.
Past census data has shown growth in the U.S. driven by immigration, but over the past decade, new arrivals from overseas slowed and then virtually disappeared during the pandemic. Instead, birth rates are driving the change: Hispanic and Asian women’s share of births has grown this century while it has declined for white women. Estimates suggest the new numbers may show fewer than half of U.S. residents under 18 are white, while more than three-quarters of those over 65 are white.
The rise in counties with no majority racial or ethnic group over the past decade took place primarily in counties that are home to some of fastest-growing cities in the nation — Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Tampa, Florida; and Fort Worth. Yet it also was evident in places as diverse as Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County and the Washington suburb of Fairfax County, Virginia.
The data released this week will be used to redraw congressional and legislative districts, setting off a round of partisan fighting over representation in an increasingly diverse nation. The stakes are particularly high in Texas and Florida, two Republican-led states getting new congressional seats, where growth is being driven in Democratic-leaning urban areas.
Census Data: Tarrant County
The rising population of people of color means new political empowerment. Tarrant County used to be among the nation’s most Republican-leaning, big-city counties, but recent elections show how the changing demographics are shifting it toward Democrats. Last year, President Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the county in almost a half-century. While a Republican mayor was elected earlier this year, a group of young, diverse Democrats swept into the Forth Worth City Council.
In Fort Worth, there’s a newfound energy and optimism about the tight-knit Como neighborhood, not only from the influx of new Hispanic residents but also because of a recent commitment from the city to spend $3.2 million on street improvements, sidewalks and streetlights.
Census Data: Texas County, Oklahoma
The rise in counties with no majority racial or ethnic group could be seen in more rural counties that lost population, like Texas County, Oklahoma, which used to have a beef-packing plant that kept an overwhelmingly white workforce employed. But that plant closed, and employment shifted to a pork-processing facility that brought in workers from Latin America and, increasingly, Africa and other parts of the globe.
While the white population dwindled and shops on the main street of its largest town, Guymon, shuttered, areas with Latino majorities boomed. Now the county is 47% Latino, 5% Black and 43% white with one third of its 20,000 residents being under the age of 18. Several dozen languages are spoken in its schools, which are bursting at the seams.
The school district is seeking approval of a $70 million bond measure to finance new buildings, and supporters know they have an uphill battle in the conservative county, where older white residents still dominate an electorate that has rejected several previous bond measures. But, in a possible sign of changing attitudes, a $20 million bond measure passed narrowly in 2016.
What the census data will reveal is an America that is becoming darker, younger, and more liberal. As a result initiatives thought impossible due to overwhelmingly conservative and white populations are now happening.
These changes are happening at such a rapid pace and is so layered that the Census Bureau this year decided to forgo using the terms “majority” and “minority” when measuring diversity, saying those words limit its ability “to illustrate the complex racial and ethnic diversity of the U.S. population.” Instead, the agency is using several new measures that show how diverse communities are through an index, a map and a score.