Skip Navigation
Click to open navigation

Indicator 1: Population Distribution
(Last Updated: July 2017)

Between 2000 and 2016, the percentage of U.S. school-age children who were White decreased from 62 to 52 percent and the percentage who were Black decreased from 15 to 14 percent. In contrast, the percentage of school-age children from other racial/ethnic groups increased: Hispanics, from 16 to 25 percent; Asians, from 3 to 5 percent; and children of Two or more races, from 2 to 4 percent.

The resident population of the United States,1 shortened to U.S. population or population from this point onward, has increased and become more ethnically diverse over the past two decades. Measuring population growth and diversity is important for anticipating the needs of schools and teachers. An awareness of the shifting demographics of the U.S. population can help ensure that educators are prepared to work with diverse groups of students.2


Figure 1.1 Estimates of the U.S. resident population, by age group: Selected years, 1990 through 2016

Figure 1.1 Estimates of the U.S. resident population, by age group: Selected years, 1990 through 2016


NOTE: The "resident population" includes the civilian population and armed forces personnel residing within the United States; it excludes armed forces personnel residing overseas. Data are for the resident population as of July 1 of the indicated year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P-25, Nos. 1092 and 1095; 2000 through 2009 Population Estimates, retrieved August 14, 2012, from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/data-sets.2009.html; and 2010 through 2016 Population Estimates, retrieved August 2, 2016, from https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 101.20.


From 1990 to 2016, the U.S. population increased by 30 percent, from 250 to 324 million. During this period, the population of adults (i.e., those age 25 and over) grew more rapidly than all other age groups, increasing by 38 percent, from 159 to 219 million. In contrast, the population of children under age 5 had the smallest percentage increase (6 percent, from 18.9 to 19.9 million). The population of 5- to 17-year-olds (i.e., school-age children) increased by 19 percent, from 45.4 to 53.8 million. The population of 18- to 24-year-olds (i.e., the traditional college-age population) increased by 15 percent, from 26.9 to 30.9 million.


Figure 1.2 Estimates of the U.S. resident population, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1990 through 2016

Figure 1.2 Estimates of the U.S. resident population, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1990 through 2016


NOTE: The "resident population" includes the civilian population and armed forces personnel residing within the United States; it excludes armed forces personnel residing overseas. Data are for the resident population as of July 1 of the indicated year. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P-25, Nos. 1092 and 1095; 2000 through 2009 Population Estimates, retrieved August 14, 2012, from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/data-sets.2009.html; and 2010 through 2016 Population Estimates, retrieved August 2, 2016, from https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 101.20.


Since 1990, the populations of all racial/ethnic groups have increased, with the population of Hispanics increasing at a faster rate than the populations of Whites, Blacks, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Between 1990 and 2016, the Hispanic population more than doubled, from 22.6 to 57.8 million. During the same period, the White population increased by 5 percent (from 189 to 198 million), the Black population increased by 37 percent (from 29.4 to 40.3 million), and the American Indian/Alaska Native population increased by 33 percent (from 1.8 to 2.4 million). As a result of these increases, the racial/ethnic composition of the U.S. population has shifted. The White population, which represented 76 percent of the total population in 1990, decreased to 61 percent in 2016. In contrast, the percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. population increased from 9 to 18 percent. The percentage of Blacks remained at about 12 percent and the percentage of American Indians/Alaska Natives remained below 1 percent.

Beginning in 2000, data were collected separately for Asians, Pacific Islanders, and individuals of Two or more races. From 2000 to 2016, the Asian population increased by 72 percent (from 10.5 to 18.0 million), the Pacific Islander population increased by 55 percent (from 370,000 to 572,000), and the population of those of Two or more races increased by 97 percent (from 3.5 to 6.8 million). Over this same time period, the percentage of Asians in the total population increased from 4 to 6 percent, and the percentage of those of Two or more races increased from 1 to 2 percent. The percentage of Pacific Islanders remained below less than one-half of 1 percent.


Figure 1.3. Percentage distribution of the U.S. resident population 5 to 17 years old, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2016

Figure 1.3. Percentage distribution of the U.S. resident population 5 to 17 years old, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2016


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: The "resident population" includes the civilian population and armed forces personnel residing within the United States; it excludes armed forces personnel residing overseas. Data are for the resident population as of July 1 of the indicated year. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, 2000 Population Estimates, retrieved August 14, 2012, from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/data-sets.2009.html; and 2016 Population Estimates, retrieved August 2, 2016, retrieved August 2, 2016, from https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 101.20.


The population of 5- to 17-year-olds, or school-age children, was higher in 2016 (53.8 million) than it was in 1990 (45.4 million). Most of this increase occurred during the 1990s, since from 2000 to 2016 the population of school-age children increased by less than 1 million. However, the racial/ethnic distribution of the school-age population in the United States changed during the latter period. Between 2000 and 2016, the percentage of school-age children who were White decreased from 62 percent to 52 percent and the percentage who were Black decreased from 15 to 14 percent. In contrast, the percentage of school-age children from other racial/ethnic groups increased: Hispanics, from 16 to 25 percent; Asians, from 3 to 5 percent; and children of Two or more races, from 2 to 4 percent. The percentage of school-age American Indians/Alaska Natives remained at 1 percent and the percentage of Pacific Islanders remained at less than 1 percent during this time.


Figure 1.4 Percentage distribution of the U.S. resident population 18 to 24 years old, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2016

Figure 1.4 Percentage distribution of the U.S. resident population 18 to 24 years old, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2016


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: The "resident population" includes the civilian population and armed forces personnel residing within the United States; it excludes armed forces personnel residing overseas. Data are for the resident population as of July 1 of the indicated year. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, 2000 Population Estimates, retrieved August 14, 2012, from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/data-sets.2009.html; and 2016 Population Estimates, retrieved August 2, 2016, from https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 101.20.


The 18- to 24-year-old population, or the traditional college-age population, increased from 26.9 million in 1990 to 30.9 million in 2016. The majority of the increase, about 3.6 million, occurred between 2000 and 2016. The changes in the racial/ethnic composition of the traditional college-age population in the United States were similar to the patterns in the school-age population with the exception of the Black population which increased in the college-age population rather than the decrease seen in the school-age population. Thus, from 2000 to 2016, the percentage of Whites in the college-age population decreased from 62 to 54 percent, while the percentages of other races/ethnicities increased: Blacks, from 14 to 15 percent; Hispanics, from 18 to 22 percent; Asians, from 4 to 6 percent; and those of Two or more races, from 1 to 3 percent. In 2016, the percentage of college-age Pacific Islanders was less than 1 percent, despite a slight increase since 2000. The percentage of American Indians/Alaska Natives in the college-age population was 1 percent in both 2000 and 2016.

Top


1 The "resident population" includes the civilian population and armed forces personnel residing within the United States. This includes people whose usual residence is within the 50 states and the District of Columbia; it excludes armed forces personnel residing overseas.
2 Frankenberg, E., and Siegel-Hawley, G. (2008). Are Teachers Prepared for Racially Changing Schools? Teachers Describe Their Preparation, Resources, and Practices for Racially Diverse Schools. University of California, Los Angeles. Los Angeles: The Civil Rights Project. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/are-teachers-prepared-for-racially-changing-schools/frankenberg-are-teachers-prepared-racially.pdf.