Sacramento, California area shows increased diversity in 2020 census results
Sacramento County rose from the seventh to the third most diverse county in California between 2010 and 2020, according to new 2020 census data on race and ethnicity released Thursday.
Other data findings reflect California’s increased racial and ethnic diversity. While the majority racial or ethnic group in the state was white in 2010, it is now Hispanic. California’s Diversity Index — the likelihood you can pick two people from an area with different races — rose two percentage points, from 67.7% to 69.7%.
Sacramento County’s Diversity Index has increased from 68.7% to 73.3% over the past 10 years. Surrounding counties — including Yolo, Placer, San Joaquin, Placer, and El Dorado — also reported increased diversity indices.
These results may have been affected by changes in question design – last year’s census asked questions on race and ethnicity in a different format than in 2010.
To collect responses, there were two separate questions: one asked people to self-declare whether they were Hispanic or Latino, and the other allowed people of any race to write in a more detailed identification of their origins. The issue of expanded write options has expanded the type of data that can be collected, compared to 2010.
Nicholas Jones, director of racial and ethnic research at the US Census Bureau‘s Population Division, noted at a news conference Thursday that the changes in question design are not new. In fact, he said, the way the bureau codes race and ethnicity data has differed with every census since data collection began in 1790.
Jones also said the 2020 questions allow for greater precision in describing demographic changes from 2010 to 2020.
“One of the things we’re really excited about with the new release is how we’re looking at diversity metrics,” he said. “We’re not just looking at a binary construct, but we’re also looking at the ways we see people are interconnected and interdependent across the country.”
Potential impact of increasing Latino Asian population in California
California has seen an increase in Latino and Asian populations in particular, as has Sacramento County. But every area has seen a decline in white and black populations.
Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, said those numbers mean that in places where communities of color have experienced population growth, there will be fewer predominantly white voting areas.
“We’re also seeing the strongest growth in the Bay Area, Sacramento and the Inland Empire,” he said. “These are the places in the state where the center of gravity of representation is going to shift to having comparatively more districts in those parts of the state than has been the case in the past 10 years.”
This could result in more local representation of lower-income communities of color, as opposed to wealthier, whiter parts of the state. This is especially important, given that California is poised to lose a seat in Congress after weak population growth over the past decade.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story
But other factors complicate the interpretation of the data.
Mindy Romero, director of the Sacramento-based USC Center for Inclusive Democracy, cautioned against viewing California as a “loser.”
In addition to losing an Electoral College vote and a congressional seat, California’s population fell for the first time in its history between 2019 and 2020, according to state population estimates. While it might be easy to reduce these changes to lingering worries about California’s affordability, that’s not the only reason demographics and population estimates are changing, Romero said.
“Our net out-of-state migration and our in-state migration is part of that, but it’s also driving down birth rates and increasing death rates, at least during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s not just a tale of ‘California people are leaving the state and leaving us all there.’ “”
Additionally, Jones said that overall, while the number of people identifying as “white alone” in the country was decreasing, the data showed an increase in the number of people identifying as multiracial, with one race being white.
In Sacramento County, for example, the percentage of non-mixed-race white respondents increased from 48.4% in 2010 to 41% in 2020. However, the percentage of mixed-race respondents increased from 4.4% to 6.5% during this 10 year period. one year gap.
“There are definitely more people who identify as multiracial — that’s probably part of how the census asked the question,” McGhee said. “But part of that has just been a growing phenomenon over time. It also doesn’t touch on the question of how California’s Latin American population identifies.
Black and brown populations, as well as young people, are already at risk of being undercounted in the census, which can affect how political districts are drawn and the amount of federal funds allocated to a community. Romero said there was no clear way to identify how that changed in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“California was particularly vulnerable to this because of the demographic makeup of the state,” she said. “Even before the census, we know that a large part of our population is in historically undercounted communities.”
The pandemic – along with wildfires and a summer of heightened protests – has also affected data collection, with the government extending data collection by two and a half months. While the Census Bureau said in March it was able to account for more than 99.9% of U.S. addresses, it noted in a press release that was only “part of the story.” .
“Census data is always at risk of being wrong, especially during the pandemic,” McGhee said. “But I think the important thing, at this point, is just that these numbers are broadly consistent with what we (demographers, researchers) thought the estimates would be.”
Romero also noted that the Census Bureau would continue to provide information to help clarify these statistics, and that this data preceded other statistics that would come later.
“We hope to have a better idea or an accurate picture of the reliability of the test data, especially at the rural level of our state,” she said. “But right now that’s what we have. But there are a lot of products that are still going to be released that researchers really need to take apart and better understand in terms of demographics.
Upcoming data from the 2020 Census responses will offer more detailed information on demographics, given the added option of writing down origins, as well as population information broken down by nation, states, counties, metropolitan areas, micropolitan areas, towns and villages.