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New census data reveals diversifying U.S. as states gear up for redistricting

U.S. census data released on Thursday (August 12) show an increasingly diverse country, with significant increases among people who identify as multi-racial, Hispanic and Asian driving much of the population growth between 2010 and 2020.

Thursday’s release from the U.S. Census Bureau also marks the start of what will be a fierce partisan battle over redistricting, as states use the local data to begin drawing congressional and state legislative districts for the next decade.

The non-Hispanic white population, which remains the largest race or ethnic group, declined by 8.6% over the decade and now accounts for 57.8% of the U.S. population – the lowest share on record.

The data also offered new details on the country’s slowing rate of population growth, which is lower than it has been at any time aside from the 1930s.

More than half of all U.S. counties lost population from 2010 to 2020, census officials said.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix are the five largest U.S. cities; Phoenix, which grew faster than any other city in the top 10, surpassed Philadelphia.

The fastest-growing cities across the U.S. are in suburban areas, data showed. Buckeye, a suburb of Phoenix, saw its population increase by nearly 80% to lead the nation.

The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, the census said.

The release arrived months later than originally expected after the census took longer to complete due to the coronavirus pandemic. The delay has forced some states to go to court to postpone their redistricting deadlines.

States use the data to redraw district lines for the U.S. House of Representatives after each decennial census, based on where people now reside.

In April, the bureau published state-level figures, showing that Texas, Florida and North Carolina – all states controlled by Republicans – will gain congressional seats next year based on increased populations.

Electoral analysts have said Republicans could potentially erase the Democrats’ thin advantage in the House through redistricting alone.

Some experts have questioned whether the census data may have undercounted certain populations, given both the pandemic as well as the Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to add a citizenship question to the survey. Civil rights groups had expressed concern that the failed

attempt could nevertheless have dissuaded some immigrants from filling out census forms.

(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)

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