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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2007-039
September 2007

Indicator 1: Population and Geographic Distributions

The U.S. population has become more diverse over the past two decades as minority population groups have increased more rapidly than the White population. However, minority population groups have not grown at the same rate, and some new patterns have emerged. In particular, between 1999 and 2000, Hispanics surpassed Blacks as the largest minority group (U.S. Department of Commerce 2001a).2 Substantial growth for minority population groups is projected to continue over the next 20 years (U.S. Department of Commerce 2004).

From 1980 to 2005, the resident population of Asians/Pacific Islanders grew 260 percent, from 3.6 million to 12.8 million. The Hispanic population grew 192 percent, from 14.6 million to 42.7 million. During the same time period, American Indians/Alaska Natives increased by 68 percent, from 1.3 million to 2.2 million, while Blacks had the slowest growth of the minority groups (39 percent), from 26.1 million to 36.3 million. In comparison, the White population grew by 10 percent between 1980 and 2005.

View Table View Table 1a

In 2005, minorities made up 33 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics were the largest minority group, representing 14 percent of the population. They were followed by Blacks (12 percent), Asians/Pacific Islanders (4 percent), and American Indians/Alaska Natives (1 percent). In addition, over 1 percent of the persons in 2005 identified themselves as being of more than one race.

Between 2005 and 2020, the minority population is expected to increase by 32 percent, compared to 4 percent for the White population. By the year 2020, minorities are predicted to represent 39 percent of the total population.

View Table View Figure 1

While minority populations are growing nationally both in terms of numbers and percentage of the population, the proportions vary widely from state to state. In 2005, minorities represented the highest percentage of the regional population (44 percent) in the West, followed by the South (37 percent).3 Minorities represented a smaller percentage of the population in the Northeast (28 percent) and the Midwest (20 percent). In terms of specific minority groups, the South had the highest percentage of Blacks (19 percent), while the West had the largest percentage of all other minority groups.

In 2005, Hawaii, with a minority population of 976,000 (appendix table A-1a), had the highest percentage of minorities of any one state (77 percent), due to its large Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander populations (41 and 8 percent, respectively), and Hispanic population (8 percent). The District of Columbia, with a minority population of 379,000, had the second highest overall percentage (69 percent).4 Over one-half of the District of Columbia's minority population were Black (56 percent) and 9 percent were Hispanic. Fifty-seven percent of people in New Mexico were minorities, with 43 percent Hispanics and 9 percent American Indians/Alaska Natives. California had the largest minority population, over 20 million, or 56 percent of the state population, the majority of which were Hispanic and Asian. Texas had the second largest number of minority residents (11.6 million), which made up 51 percent of its population. Some 35 percent of Texas' population was Hispanic.

Several other states had minority populations that were substantially higher (more than 5 percentage points) than the national average. For instance, Arizona and Nevada had high percentages of Hispanics (29 and 24 percent, respectively). Florida also had a high percentage of Hispanics (19 percent) for a state in the South. Illinois, a Midwest state with a 34 percent minority population, had large Black and Hispanic populations (15 and 14 percent, respectively). Additionally, 7 percent of New York and New Jersey's populations were Asian, a relatively high percentage for states not in the West. Both states also had high percentages of Blacks (15 percent in New York and 13 percent in New Jersey) and Hispanics (16 percent in New York and 15 percent in New Jersey) for states in the Northeast.

In contrast, several states had minority populations that were substantially lower (more than 20 percentage points) than the national average. Maine, for instance, had the lowest percentage of minority residents (4 percent) among all states. Vermont, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Iowa also had small minority populations (each under 9 percent).

View Table View Table 1b
View Table View Table 1c


2 In 1999, Blacks represented 12.1 percent of the population and Hispanics represented 11.5 percent (U.S. Department of Commerce 2001b). In Census 2000 (table 1) Blacks were 12.2 percent and Hispanics 12.5 percent.
3 Northeastern states are CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, and VT. Midwestern states are IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, and WI. Southern states are AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, and DC. Western states are AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, and WY.
4 The total 2005 population estimate for the District of Columbia has been revised. The estimates for race and Hispanic origin, however, have not been updated.