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While the white population still is the largest racial group in most states, many places are much less white and many more people identify as multiracial, according to 2020 U.S. Census data.
The 10 most racially diverse states are in the West, South and Northeast, with Hawaii ranking No. 1, according to 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While the most prevalent racial group in most states still is white/non-Hispanic, the data show that the white population is decreasing and the share of people who identify as multiracial is increasing.
The Census Bureau applied a diversity index score to each state to “measure the probability that two people chosen at random will be from different racial and ethnic groups.” According to data, the states with the highest diversity index scores after Hawaii are: California, Nevada, Maryland, District of Columbia (considered a state equivalent), Texas, New Jersey, New York, Georgia and Florida.
The census data also shows that racial or ethnic groups are most prevalent in specific regions:
- Black/African American in the South.
- Hispanic/Latino in the Southwest and West.
- American Indian and Alaska Native in Alaska and in the Southwest and Midwest where there are tribal lands.
Still, the white/non-Hispanic population is the most prevalent racial or ethnic group in all states except California (Hispanic/Latino), Hawaii (Asian/non-Hispanic), New Mexico (Hispanic/Latino) and the District of Columbia (Black/African American).
Other Diversity Trends
In 2020, the white population was the largest racial or ethic group nationwide. People who identified as "white alone" totaled 204 million while 235 million said they were "white alone or in combination with another group." Still, the overall white alone population decreased by about 9% from 2010 to 2020.
The “two or more races” population (also called multiracial) totaled 9 million people in 2010; 10 years later, it was nearly 34 million, a 276% increase.
All of the “race alone” or “in combination groups” experienced increases. The “some other race alone or in combination” group totaled nearly 50 million, a 129% increase, surpassing Black/African American (47 million) as the second-largest race alone or in combination group.
The Hispanic/Latino population, which includes people of any race, was 62 million in 2020, up 23% in the 10-year period.
The Census Bureau used the following groups to measure diversity:
- Hispanic or Latino.
- White alone non-Hispanic.
- Black or African American alone non-Hispanic.
- American Indian and Alaska Native alone non-Hispanic.
- Asian alone non-Hispanic.
- Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone non-Hispanic.
- Some other race alone non-Hispanic.
- Multiracial non-Hispanic.
There were improvements to how race and ethnicity data were collected and processed that impacted the 2020 results, according to the Census Bureau. The changes enabled a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify, which yielded a more accurate picture of how Hispanics identify by origin and race. These changes revealed that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than in the past, the agency says.
Jean Dimeo is the managing editor of Route Fifty.