2020 Census data shows increased population and racial diversity in Upper Valley towns
Hanover’s population grew by 5.4% from 2010 to 2020, while Lebanon’s population grew by 8.6%.
Data from the 2020 census, released in August 2021, showed a marked increase in the population of New Hampshire – including the cities of Hanover and Lebanon. Since the last census in 2010, the population of Hanover has increased by 5.4% and that of Lebanon by 8.6%.
The state of New Hampshire experienced an overall population increase of 4.6%, greater than the 6.5% increase between 2000 and 2010. Vermont’s population increased by 2.8% from 2010 to 2020 .
In terms of racial diversity, New Hampshire emerged as one of four states with the highest percentage of white residents, as well as Maine, West Virginia and Vermont, all of which are over 88% white. Additionally, three of those four states — Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont — host the largest percentage of the population over the age of 18; each has an adult population greater than 81%
According to Census.gov, the census aims to count all residents of the United States every 10 years, with the primary purpose of determining how many seats each state should be allocated in the United States House of Representatives. Based on 2020 census data, New Hampshire will see no change in its representation in Congress.
Lebanon’s Mayor Timothy McNamara said the city’s population increase was a growth rate he had “never seen before”. He attributed the growth to the new availability of housing in the region, with 1,300 new housing units added in Lebanon over the past two to three years, a 15-20% increase in housing stock.
McNamara also noted that the new housing availability is shifting the local population into a “rental demographic,” which will have a younger population.
“I think a diverse community, including age diversity, is the healthiest community you can have,” McNamara said.
Lebanon’s percentage identifying as non-Hispanic white has declined slightly since 2010. That year, the census found 86.5% of the population to be non-Hispanic white, while in 2019 – granular data on race and ethnicity are not yet available for 2020 — the percentage was 85.1%.
McNamara said he was happy to see an increase in the racial diversity of the local population.
“I grew up here 50 years ago – it was a very cohesive community,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of diversity – religious, racial or otherwise. I’m very encouraged that it’s increased over time, because I think it just strengthens our community and makes us better people, and I hope that this will continue.
According to University of New Hampshire sociology professor and demographer Ken Johnson, the white population is older than the minority population in the Upper Valley, which means that minority populations could continue to grow. could perhaps explain the increased representation of minority populations in the region.
“A greater proportion of minority populations of women are of childbearing age, so more of them are having children,” Johnson said.
According to geography professor Richard Wright, one of the reasons for the increase in diversity may be due to the recent addition of a “multiracial” option in the census, giving more people the opportunity to identify their mixed origins. He added that another reason for the increased diversity in the Upper Valley could be a refugee resettlement policy in Vermont and parts of New Hampshire that disperses refugees to rural areas due to their low cost of resettlement. life.
“Small municipalities are looking to increase population, so they see refugees as a sort of demographic boost for their populations,” Wright said.
Wright also noted that he thinks people are drawn to the economic opportunities in the smaller Upper Valley municipalities. According to the Valley News, these economic conditions can be assigned to the “growing education, technology and healthcare service communities” – particularly in the areas surrounding the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth itself.