On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau unveiled its final population tallies from the 2010 census. The findings? We are more diverse, more suburban, and more Western than we were 10 years ago, among many other changes. Here, six of the biggest stories from the Census Bureau's data dump:
1. America's Hispanic population in booming
The number of Hispanic residents hit 50.5 million in 2010, a 43 percent leap from 2000. Hispanics, at 16.3 percent of the U.S. population (and 23 percent of the under-18 group), are now solidly America's largest minority. The Hispanic population grew throughout the country, in larger numbers than expected, and now represents a plurality of New Mexico's population — Texas and California are getting close to having Hispanic pluralities as well.
2. The population center of the U.S. shifted west
In 1790, the middle point of the U.S. population distribution was in Kent County, Md. In 2000, it was in Edgar Springs, Mo. By 2010, it was 2.7 miles northeast of Plato, Mo., a 40 mile shift westward from the 2000 mean population center. The move westward to Plato, population 109, reflects the growth of America's West.
3. Suburbs are up, cities are down
The U.S. population shifted more to the suburbs over the past 10 years, with the suburban outskirts of Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas, especially, seeing record growth. Meanwhile, Detroit lost about a quarter of its population — about 65 people a day for a decade — and New Orleans shrank by 30 percent, due mostly to Hurricane Katrina. Because population determines congressional redistricting, "there will be a shift of political power to suburban areas, period," says Tim Storey at the National Council of State Legislatures.
4. New York City and Washington D.C. are getting whiter
For the first time since the 1950s, the percentage of white residents in Washington, D.C. grew — by a remarkable 31.6 percent, in fact — while the black population fell by 11.5 percent. The black (non-Hispanic) population in New York City dropped by 5 percent — the first decline since the Civil War — to 23 percent of the city. New York's white population fell by 3 percent, to 33 percent, which is still the smallest drop since the 1950s. New York's Asian community expanded by 32 percent, and its Hispanic numbers grew by 8 percent. Officially, New York gained about 166,000 residents.
5. Blacks are returning to the South
Where did all the African-Americans go? Many went south. Metro Atlanta supplanted Chicago for the first time as America's second-largest black community, after New York, and the percentage of black Americans living in the South rose to 67 percent, the highest share since the 1960s. In the 1910s, 90 percent of African-Americans lived in the South. Along with New York, Washington, and Chicago, blacks also left Detroit and Los Angeles in large numbers. "This is the decade of black flight," says Brooking Institution chief demographer William Frey. "It's a new age for African-Americans."
6. Viva la Sun Belt!
Some of the last decade's biggest population growth was in the Southwest. Nevada's population tops the list, expanding 35 percent, and Texas, Arizona, and Utah all grew by more than 20 percent. Maricopa, Ariz., grew by 4,000 percent.
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