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White Population Shrinking in Latest Census, 13 States Gain or Lose Seats in Congress

A discussion of the population shifts, purposeful errors by the Census Department, states gaining or losing members in Congress, urban-rural shifts, and political analysis of winners and losers.
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I Count

The Census Department released its 2020 Census Statistics Highlight Local Population Changes and Nation’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Curiously, my hometown of Danville, Illinois made the metro highlights. 

Metro Highlights

  • The largest county in the United States in 2020 remains Los Angeles County with over 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, FL, which grew 39% from about 93,000 people to about 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, AR, and Danville, IL, at -12.5 percent and -9.1 percent, respectively.

Race 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) has 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.

By Age

  • 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.

Housing Units

  • 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, North Dakota, with a 147.9% increase.
  • West Virginia and Puerto Rico were the only two states or state equivalents that lost housing units.
  • There were 126,817,580 occupied housing units and 13,681,156 vacant units in the United States.

Skewed Data

NPR discusses skewed data.

In preparing for the 2020 count, the Census Bureau was planning to reframe race and ethnicity questions on the form in a way that, according to years of the bureau's own research, would have collected more accurate data about people's Hispanic or Latino origins. The proposed changes would have required policy changes by the White House's Office of Management and Budget, which, under the Trump administration, stalled on making a public decision on the proposal

As a result, the 2020 census forms asked people whether they are "of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin" and then asked for their race.

That two-question format may have captured race and ethnicity data that is not fully representative of the Latinx population, results from an online survey the Pew Research Center conducted suggest.

Purposeful Errors

The AP also discusses skewed data.

“This is our first opportunity to see if there’s any indication of an unprecedented undercount,” said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). “There always is an undercount. This census will be no different, but our concern is to make sure this isn’t hugely out of proportion to undercounts we have seen in prior censuses.”

For the first time, the numbers will not be entirely accurate at the smallest geographic levels due to a new privacy method used by the Census Bureau. The method inserts controlled errors into the data at small geographic levels, such as neighborhood blocks, in order to protect people’s identities in an era of Big Data.

Jarmin has warned that the process may produce weird results, such as blocks showing children living with no adults or housing units not matching the number of people living there.


The WSJ addresses the Covid aspect.

In March 2020, millions of Americans had just received a mailed invitation to respond to the census when the pandemic mushroomed. That forced the bureau to shut down many operations for weeks. When it restarted, officials struggled to retain and deploy a quarter-million mask-protected workers to count millions of non-responding households, many of them wary of answering the door. The bureau planned to extend counting last fall, but Mr. Ross ordered it accelerated. That produced more litigation before the Supreme Court allowed counting to close Oct. 15.

In the end, about two-thirds of Americans answered the census on their own, a key measure because that method typically yields the most complete, accurate results. That matched the 2010 rate, although last year the window was extended from 20 to 31 weeks. Other preliminary quality measures show a sharp increase in the number of census questions left blank. The bureau has filled in blanks by checking other federal records and making inferences from information about other household members or, as a last resort, similar households nearby.

Amid skepticism about the quality of the census, the bureau has taken extra steps to assess its accuracy. After sifting a trove of operational data, a panel from the American Statistical Association is expected to report early findings within weeks. The bureau has also asked for a full review by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, a project expected to last into 2023.

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Who Controls Redistricting

A separate WSJ discusses redistricting.

  • Five states will gain at least one seat each: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon. Texas, with its growing population, will gain two more seats in Congress.
  • Seven states will lose one seat each: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. This is the first time that California, the nation’s most populous state, has lost a seat.

  • This is the fifth census apportionment in a row in which New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan all lost at least one seat.

Political Analysis

Wasserman is U.S. House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

"Based on the strong urban and weaker rural numbers I'm seeing, this is a *much* more favorable Census count than minority advocacy groups/Dems had feared," says Wasserman.

Personal Anecdotes

The population of Danville, Illinois, my hometown, was over 46,000 when I grew up. The 2010 census was 33,027. 

I did not locate the current chart but the 2020 census said -9.1 percent. That would make it about 30,022 not counting Covid impacts, and I am certain Danville did not have a high vaccination adoption percentage.

With a crime rate of 63 per one thousand residents, Danville has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes - from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One's chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 16.

One of my readers once commented "It's no wonder you have a deflationist outlook. Look where you grew up."


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