That's not to say there aren't exceptions: coastal communities in the Carolinas and Virginia, as well as in counties stretching through the midsections of Georgia and Alabama, saw an uptick in their white populations.
But overall, the numbers show the white population is losing its majority foothold in the U.S. The latest census is one of the most consequential in census history as it could decide who gains control of the U.S. House in the 2022 elections, as well as provide an electoral edge for Republicans or Democrats until the next count.
Census: Rethinking how to count people in dorms, prisons
Following a 2020 census in which the pandemic made access to group housing difficult, Census Bureau officials said Thursday they are going to reassess how they count people living in dorms, prisons and nursing homes in the next head count of every U.S. resident in 2030. The Census Bureau is going to rethink how residents of group quarters are accounted for, though it's too early at this point to say how that will be done, Al Fontenot, an associate director of the Census Bureau, told members of a scientific advisory committee during a virtual meeting.
The data will also influence how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed each year.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
The data comes from compiling forms filled out last year by tens of millions of Americans, with the help of census takers and government statisticians to fill in the blanks when forms were not turned in or questions were left unanswered. The numbers reflect countless decisions made over the past 10 years by individuals to have children, move to another part of the country or to come to the U.S. from elsewhere.
The release offers states the first chance to redraw their political districts in a process that is expected to be particularly brutish since control over Congress and statehouses is at stake. It also provides the first opportunity to see, on a limited basis, how well the Census Bureau fulfilled its goal of counting every U.S. resident during what many consider the most difficult once-a-decade census in recent memory.
Opinion: White fear is the wrong way to tell the Census story
Right-wing media narratives frame America's growing non-White population as a problem to be solved through gerrymandering, xenophobia and anti-democratic legislation, writes Peniel Joseph of responses to recent US census data -- and yet, America's changing demographics tell a different, more inspiring story. Rather than a narrative of White decline, what if we saw in this data the increasing numbers of racially blended families and mixed-race children -- and understood them as signs of a more racially diverse, economically just and culturally rich future? Transforming the racist narrative of the changing demographics in the US will
"The data we are releasing today meet our high quality data standards," acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said.
Video: New census data expected to show America is becoming more diverse (NBC News)
Even before it began, the headcount was challenged by attempted political interference from the Trump administration's failed efforts to add a citizenship question to the census form, a move that critics feared would have a chilling effect on immigrant or Hispanic participation. The effort was stopped by the Supreme Court.
The information was originally supposed to be released by the end of March, but that deadline was pushed back because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The start of the 2020 census for most U.S. residents coincided with the spread of the coronavirus last year, forcing the Census Bureau to delay operations and extend the count's schedule. Because census data is tied to where people were on April 1, 2020, the numbers will not reflect the loss of nearly 620,000 people in the U.S. who died from COVID-19.
North Macedonia holds first high-stakes census, first in 20 years
Since early September Ilina Dimitrijevska has been walking endless kilometres every day, going door to door asking people to take part in North Macedonia's first census in nearly two decades. Her task may be straightforward enough, but the census remains highly sensitive due to the potential impact on the nation's minorities. In this small Balkan country -- which gained independence in 1991 following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and came close to civil war in 2001 -- the long postponed census is far from being a mere statistical operation.
On top of the pandemic, census takers in the West contended with wildfires, and those in Louisiana faced repeated hurricanes. Then, there were court battles over the Trump administration's effort to end the count early that repeatedly changed the plan for concluding field operations.
Back in April, the Census Bureau released state population totals from the 2020 census showing how many congressional seats each state gets.
"Certainly, the pandemic played a big role, but we can't forget the political interference we saw," said Terry Ao Minnis, an official with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an advocacy group. "I think we know that all has played a role in whether people participated or not, whether it was from fear created about participating or sheer confusion about, 'Who is at my door?...Should I not open my door because of COVID? Should I not open my door because of the government?'"
Communities of color have been undercounted in past censuses. The Census Bureau likely will not know how good a job it did until next year, when it releases a survey showing undercounts and overcounts. But Thursday's release allows researchers to do an initial quality check, and it could lead to lawsuits alleging that the numbers are faulty. The Census Bureau has a program that allows elected officials to challenge the data, but it does not apply to apportionment or redistricting.
2020 Census data: The United States is more diverse and more multiracial than ever
People of color represented 43% of the total US population in 2020, up from 34% in 2010. The non-Hispanic White share of the US population fell to 57% in 2020, shrinking by six percentage points since 2010, the largest decrease of any race or ethnicity. The share of those who identified as Hispanic or Latino or as multiracial grew the most.The United States aged overall since 2010 and the population younger than 18 became more diverse.The adult population in the United States has grown from 237 million to 261 million during the last 10 years.
"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 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.
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Post-2020 redistricting cycle kicks off with release of long-delayed Census data .
The Census Bureau's trove of data allows states to draw new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts ahead of the 2022 midterms.The Trump administration's legal efforts to get undocumented immigrants excluded from the apportionment numbers, the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events, and civil unrest during summer 2020 led to delays in conducting the count itself. The Census Bureau also had to resolve data errors and anomalies in the count, which are routine in every census but were compounded by the pandemic.