Nation to Become a Plurality, but Some Areas Already Are

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Written by: Jason E. Devine and Jennifer M. Ortman

When people discuss our nation’s increasing diversity, they often think about the point at which the non-Hispanic White alone population will comprise less than 50 percent of the nation’s total population. This transition has been described as the point at which we become a “majority-minority” nation. Here, minority is defined as any group other than non-Hispanic White alone. At this point, the non-Hispanic White alone population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority and the United States would become a “plurality” of racial and ethnic groups.

While the nation is projected to become both a “majority-minority” and a “plurality” nation by 2043, some states and many counties have already crossed these thresholds. California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, and the District of Columbia have populations that are already “majority-minority.” Nearly one-third of Americans already live in a “majority-minority” county. According to new Census Bureau estimates released today, this was the case in 355 (11 percent) of the nation’s 3,143 counties in 2013.

The term “plurality” considers the diversity of the aggregate minority population. The populations in the “majority-minority” states are also considered “pluralities,” because no race (alone) or ethnic group has greater than a 50 percent share of the state’s population.

In 2013, of the 355 counties where the combined minority populations make up more than 50 percent of the population, 143 counties are “pluralities,” where no race or ethnic group has greater than a 50 percent share of their county’s total population. In the remaining 212 counties, a race or ethnic group other than non-Hispanic White alone (e.g., Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black alone, non-Hispanic Asian alone, etc.) makes up greater than 50 percent of the county’s total population.

The figure below shows examples for the race and Hispanic origin distribution of 10 “plurality” counties (of those with populations greater than 25,000 in 2013), where no one group accounts for more than 40 percent of the total population. Three of these counties are in Hawaii, two each are in New York and California, and the remaining three counties are in North Carolina, New Mexico and Texas.

Selected Plurality Counties: July 1, 2013

To explore more information on the latest demographic characteristics of the nation, states, and counties, please visit: http://www.census.gov/popest/

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