Population Trends by State: Race and Ethnicity

Population Trends by State: Race and Ethnicity

Throughout our series on factors affecting current and future enrollments in higher education in Texas, we have looked at trends in birth rates, high school graduation rates, and age-related demographics. With the US Census Bureau’s recent release of the newest edition of the American Community Survey (ACS) data, we turn our analysis to reviewing estimates related to race and ethnicity. This blog post presents broad national and state-level trends, with future posts narrowing the focus to Texas counties and the regions that public university campuses serve.

How have race/ethnicity demographics changed in the past decade?

The US Census Bureau follows the Office of Management and Budget’s two-step guidelines during data collection, where respondents identify their ethnicity (Hispanic/Latino or Not Hispanic/Latino) and race (White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander). From the combination of these categories, the ACS data report additional groupings such as “Some other race” and “Two or more races” in its estimates. For individuals selecting “Hispanic or Latino”, additional categories that could be selected included “Cuban”, “Mexican,” “Puerto Rican,” or “Other Hispanic/Latino.”

In general, and not surprisingly, the population of the United States is becoming more diverse. In 2012, the ACS data showed that 36% of the total population in America identified their race/ethnicity in categories that could be characterized as something other than “White alone” (as it is classified in the ACS data). In 2021, that percentage increased to just below 41%. Across the United States, the fastest-growing race/ethnicity groups in the ACS data (2012 to 2021) were individuals who identified with the following ethnicity/race combinations: 

  • “Not Hispanic/Latino” + “Some other race alone”: 96% increase
  • “Not Hispanic/Latino” + “Two or more races”: 73% increase
  • “Hispanic or Latino (of any race)” + “Other Hispanic or Latino”: 38% increase
  • “Hispanic or Latino (of any race)” + “Cuban”: 30% increase
There were two ethnicity/race categories that saw decreases from 2012 to 2021:
  • “Not Hispanic or Latino” + “White alone”: 0.5% decrease
  • “Not Hispanic or Latino” + “American Indian and Alaska Native alone”: 6% decrease
The visualizations below contextualize the changes in the non-white population from 2012 to 2021 at the state level for the lower 48 states in America. North Dakota showed the highest percentage increase in non-white population at 72.2%, with Mississippi showing the lowest percentage increase at 4.7%. Hovering over a state on the map will change the bar chart that shows four data points: population estimates in 2012 and 2021, and the differences (Count and Percentage) between these two bookend years. 

So What?

Projecting future enrollments in higher education can be complicated due to the multitude of factors that must be considered. The changing demographics of the country, and more specifically within states, has to be a factor that receives the appropriate weighting when combining variables to make predictions, in large part due to the complexity surrounding the topic of race and ethnicity. This richness can be seen in the increasing percentage of individuals who identify with cultures that fall outside the US government’s data collection definitions. Given these most-recent trends, how education leaders and policymakers respond to changes in demographics will have far-reaching ramifications for the next generations of college-going Americans and Texans.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *