Reason Roundup

Texas Wins the Census

Plus: Oregon ditches high school proficiency requirements, new vaccine rules in San Francisco and New Orleans, and more...


The big news out of the 2020 census data released yesterday is that the U.S. is becoming less white. As Reason's Ron Bailey noted yesterday, "the population identifying as white alone decreased by 8.6 percent since the previous census in 2010," while the number of people identifying as multiracial rose by 276 percent. But these aren't the only big changes American demographics saw in the decade between 2010 and 2020.

While growing at its slowest rate since the Great Depression (from 308.7 million residents in 2010 to 331.4 million in 2020), the U.S. also saw a shift in where people are choosing to live. The biggest gains go to Texas, Western states more broadly, and metropolitan areas across the country. Certain areas of the South also saw some significant gains.

Big cities see big gains.

Most metropolitan areas—that is, counties containing a city with at least 50,000 people living in it—saw their populations go up.

Some 81 percent—or 312 out of 384 metro areas—experienced a population increase, compared to only 48 percent of "micropolitan" areas (a.k.a. counties containing a city of more than 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people). Overall, "the population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010," according to a U.S. Census Bureau press release.

Between 2010 and 2020, the population of U.S. micropolitan areas grew 1 percent but still decreased as a percentage of the population, from 9 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2020.

The majority of U.S. counties—about 52 percent—saw population decreases between 2010 and 2020.

Population winners and losers:

• Only three states—West Virginia, Mississippi, and Illinois—and Puerto Rico saw population declines overall.

• States with the most population growth were Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, and Washington. ("These five states accounted for nearly half of the total numeric population increase in the United States between 2010 and 2020," the Census Bureau says.)

• The fastest-growing state over the past decade was Utah, which increased its overall population by 18.4 percent. Utah was followed by Idaho, Texas, North Dakota, and Nevada, which each increased by at least 15 percent.

• Texas saw the most supercharged city growth:

• The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas gained at least 1.2 million people apiece between 2010 and 2020, as did the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area.

• The latest data still put Los Angeles County as the biggest county in the U.S. and New York City as the largest city.

• The metro area that grew the fastest: The Villages, in Florida, jumping from approximately 93,000 people to 130,000 people.

• The next biggest gainers were the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown area in Texas; St. George, Utah; Greeley, Colorado; and the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach metro area in South and North Carolina.

• The five U.S. metro areas with the biggest population gains were: Harris County, Texas (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land); Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler); King County, Washington (Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue); Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise); and Tarrant County, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington).

• Phoenix has now overtaken Philadelphia as the fifth-largest city.

• The populations of Buffalo, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio grew for the first time in 70 years.

Race and ethnicity shifts

America's Asian and Hispanic populations are booming, 2020 census data show:

• The number of people (of any race) identifying as Hispanic or Latino was around 62.1 million, up 23 percent from 2010. (In Texas, the "Hispanic population is now nearly as large as the non-Hispanic white population, with just half a percentage point separating them. Texas gained nearly 11 Hispanic residents for every additional white resident since 2010," notes The Texas Tribune.)

• About 24 million people identified as all or partially Asian, 9.7 million as all or partially American Indian or Alaska Native, and 1.6 million as all or partially Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

But the biggest racial shift came in the number of people identifying as multiracial—up to 33.8 million in 2020, from 9 million in 2010.

"The 'in combination' multiracial populations for all race groups accounted for most of the overall changes in each racial category," the Census Bureau notes. "All of the race alone or in combination groups experienced increases. The Some Other Race alone or in combination group (49.9 million) increased 129%, surpassing the Black or African American population (46.9 million) as the second-largest race alone or in combination group."

White people still make up the bulk of the U.S. population, with 204.3 million Americans identifying solely as white. An additional 31.1 million identifying as a combination of white and another race.

As NPR points out, "what the new census data shows about race depends on how you look at it."

The Census Bureau warns that "data comparisons between the 2020 Census and 2010 Census race data should be made with caution, taking into account the improvements we have made to the Hispanic origin and race questions and the ways we code what people tell us."

An aging population:

"The share of children in the U.S. declined because of falling birth rates, while the share of adults grew, driven by aging baby boomers," notes the Associated Press. "Adults over 18 made up more than three-quarters of the population in 2020, or 258.3 million people, an increase of more than 10% from 2010. However, the population of children under age 18 dropped from 74.2 million in 2010 to 73.1 million in 2020."


Shift in Oregon education standards. Gov. Kate Brown signed a law in July that ends certain proficiency requirements for high school students. Is this simply a knock at bureaucratic testing standards, or "the soft bigotry of low progressive expectations"? The Wall Street Journal says it's the latter:

The new law extends until 2024 a temporary suspension of the state requirements that kids demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and math to graduate from high school. Previously, in addition to demonstrating proficiency via Oregon's Assessments of Knowledge and Skills test, students had the option of taking other standardized tests or submitting a work project to teachers. The new legislation gives the state's Department of Education until 2022 to write new standards.

The purpose of public education is to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in the world. It is a terrible disservice to issue a diploma that fools them into believing they've mastered basic skills they haven't. It is particularly cruel for the minority students who will pay the highest price when the real world confirms that their high schools have defrauded them of a real education.


San Francisco to require proof of vaccination for many activities. Of course the Bay Area is among the first to up the vaccination status ante. "San Francisco will become the first major city in the country to require proof of full vaccination against the coronavirus for a variety of indoor activities, including visiting bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues that serve food or beverages," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The new rules take effect August 20.

Somewhat surprisingly, New Orleans is also joining in:

New Orleans announced Thursday that people will have to show either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result within the last 72 hours to go to bars, eat indoors at restaurants, work out in a gym, or do other activities in public.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that the new rules will go into effect on Monday and enforcement will start on Aug. 23.


• The federal cop who devised a bogus sex trafficking ring and falsely imprisoned a teen for two years can't be sued, a federal court says.

• "The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked part of an eviction moratorium in New York State that had been imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a move the law's supporters said might expose thousands to eviction," The New York Times reports.

• Lenore Skenazy looks at the cruel treatment of inmates at a Texan prison for sex offenders.