The Increasing Diversity of the U.S. Population

By Kyle Reese-Cassal and Catherine Spisszak

One of the biggest trends, as revealed by the Census 2010 data, is the increasing diversity of the U.S. population.

The 2010 Census allowed the reporting of six race categories and any combination of the six, as well as Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.  As these many groups change over time, it is important to be able to track the change as a whole.  To accomplish this, Esri created a proprietary Diversity Index. The Diversity Index is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 and defined as the likelihood that two persons, chosen at random from the same area, belong to different race or ethnic groups. If an area’s entire population belongs to one race group and one ethnic group, then an area has zero diversity. An area’s diversity index increases to 100 when the population is evenly divided into two or more race/ethnic groups. It is important to note that the Diversity Index does not reveal the racial composition of an area, only the degree of diversity. An area with an index of zero may represent any of the specific race/Hispanic origin groups. In 2000, the Diversity Index for the U.S. was 54.6. In 2010 it has risen to 60.6.

The map below shows the Esri Diversity Index by county in 2000 and 2010. Use the swipe tool to illustrate the change between 2000 and 2010.

View the full-sized Census 2000 and Census 2010 Diversity Index maps.

In 2000, the most diverse areas of the country were along the coasts and the southern border. In 2000, white non-Hispanics became the minority in New Mexico, California, Hawaii and the District of Columbia. Seventeen states had Diversity Indexes greater than 50. The least diverse areas were in New England and the Midwest, including the least diverse states of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire where the average Diversity Index was 8.7.

In 2010, we are seeing significant increases in the Diversity Index across the country. In 2010, Texas joined New Mexico, California, Hawaii, and D.C. on the list of states where non-Hispanic whites were the minority. In 2010, a total of 25 states had a diversity index greater than 50, an increase of eight states since 2000. The Hispanic population doubled in nine states between 2000 and 2010.

Here are some other revealing trends that we are seeing with Census 2010 data:

  • At the US level, the largest percent increases were seen for the Asian (43.3%) and Hispanic or Latino population (43%).  The smallest percent increases were for the White (5.7%) and Black or African American (12.3%) categories.
  • 30 percent (or 15.2 million) of the 50.5 million Hispanics were added in the last ten years
  • If annual growth rates are maintained, Hispanics will overtake Whites as the majority race/ethnic group in less than 50 years.
  • If annual growth rates are maintained, Non-White minority groups will outnumber the white population in less than 25 years.
  • Changes in diversity are being fueled by the young population.  Approximately one in every two children under the age of two is non-White.
  • Ten states showed a decline in the White population over the decade.
  • The Hispanic and Latino population grew by over 100 percent in nine states.
  • 1,388 (44.2%) counties had a loss in the White population over the decade.  Of these 1,388 counties, 692 had a loss in total population.
  • The Hispanic population increased by 100 percent or more in 913 of the 3,141 counties over the decade.

Census 2010 data is available now to Business Analyst Online (BAO) subscribers and guest users in both a report and maps. Business Analyst Desktop users can access the Census 2010 data by choosing the Show Online Reports option from Preferences. Business Analyst Server users can integrate the Census 2010 data and reports instantly via the Business Analyst Online APIs. The Census 2010 database is also available for purchase in a variety of formats and geographies.

For more information about Census 2010 data, please visit

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