Bruce Murphy
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Entire State Has Become More Diverse

All 72 counties increased their percentage of people of color since 2010, Census data shows.

By - Aug 17th, 2021 10:42 am
“Our Roots Say That We’re Sisters" by Mauricio Ramirez. Drawing by Mauricio Ramirez.

“Our Roots Say That We’re Sisters” by Mauricio Ramirez. Drawing by Mauricio Ramirez.

An analysis of detailed data on race and ethnicity released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that every county in Wisconsin has become more diverse since 2010. That’s according to an analysis by the New York Times, which showed that in Wisconsin and 29 other states, every county showed an increase in the share of people of color living there.

It’s all part of trend of the United States becoming ever more diverse, affecting the vast majority of counties in the nation. “More than a third of the nation now lives in counties where people of color are a majority,” the story notes. “Since 1980, Hispanic and Asian populations have experienced the largest growth, with each group quadrupling its size from 40 years ago. During that time, the growth of the white population has slowed with each decade, increasing about 6 percent since 1980, as the national population grew more than 40 percent.”

Between 2010 and 2020, as Wisconsin Public Radio reported, Wisconsin’s Hispanic population “grew by nearly one-third to 447,290 while its Black population grew by 4.4 percent to 366,508 and its Asian American population grew by 36 percent to 174,267,”

Most of the Midwest was among the group of states where every county grew more diverse. The exceptions were Illinois, where several counties showed an increase in the share of the population that was white, and Michigan, where one county in the Upper Peninsula showed in an increase in the share of white residents.

But the states with the biggest number of counties that have turned more white were in the South, including Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, the Times found.

Meanwhile, some city neighborhoods “historically populated by people of color have become increasingly white as residents are priced out by wealthier white newcomers seeking convenient and less expensive housing,” the Times noted. “About a third of all census tracts in which people of color were a majority in 2010 became more white by 2020.”

Other cities, however, have changed in the opposite direction, becoming majority minority. “White residents became a minority in six major metro areas in 2020: Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando, Atlanta, Sacramento, New Orleans and Austin,” the Times found.

The increase in diversity has also come because of the first decline in history in the country’s white population, a decrease of more than 5 million from 2020 to 2020, the story noted. That trend was seen in Wisconsin, too, where the population that identifies as white dropped by 3.4%, the WPR reported.

But some analysts have questioned whether that number might be misleading. As a Washington Post analysis noted, some of the decline in people identifying as white may be because of changes in the Census Bureau’s method of surveying, whose “design, data processing and coding procedures have made it easier for respondents to identify as more than one race.”

“In fact, this number skyrocketed in Wisconsin,” the WPR found. “In 2010, just 79,398 people said they belonged to ‘two or more races’ in the Census. In 2020, that number was 203,746 — a 156.6 percent increase.” Depending on what percentage of these were people who previously checked white only to describe themselves, that could account for most of the decline in white people in the state.

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