Home / Population and society / Articles / How the Black population in the US changed in the last census

The non-Hispanic Black population grew 6%, slower than the population growth of other groups like Hispanic Americans, up 23% since 2010, and Asian Americans, up 36%. While the overall growth in Black population lagged compared to some groups, it did change in key ways at the local level. Many of the largest centers of Black population shrunk over those ten years. At the same time, some of the fastest-growing counties in the US saw their share of Black population increase.

Six of the 10 counties with the largest Black populations in 2010 lost Black population in 2020

Counties with the highest Black populations in 2010 saw those populations shrink in 2020. For example, Cook County, home to Chicago, has the largest Black population in the US. From 2010 to 2020, its Black population decreased by 80,000 or 6% of its Black residents. Its overall population increased by 1.6%.

Five other counties in the top 10 had Black population decreases from 2010 to 2020.

The Black population in the Washington, DC dropped by 6% while its overall population increased by 15%. As a result. Washington, DC is no longer a majority Black city.

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Black population growth outpaced overall growth in two of the 10 counties with the biggest Black populations

At the same time, the Black percentage of the overall population rose in the nation’s fastest-growing counties. The Black population is now a higher percentage of the overall population for counties containing Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

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Six southern states had increases in their Black population percentage

Fifty-eight percent of Black people live in the Census Bureau’s South Region, which comprises 16 states and Washington, DC.

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In addition to Washington, DC, six Southern states have Black population shares exceeding 25%: Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Alabama, and South Carolina. The Black population is growing in some of these states and declining in others. Black population growth outpaced overall population growth in 32 states, including Georgia and Louisiana, but not the other states with a high share of Black people.

Other Southern states with growing Black populations included Texas, Delaware, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland. Two states — Mississippi and South Carolina — lost Black residents.

In 2010, Black people were the majority in 99 or 3% of counties in the US. These counties account for one in 10 Black people in the country and were mostly in the South. Between censuses, the Black population in these counties dropped 3% from 4.2 million to 4 million, while the overall population increased by 2%.

Some areas with smaller Black populations in 2010 had increases of 30% or more in 2020

North Dakota’s population grew by 16% between 2010 and 2020 but its Black population more than tripled, the biggest percentage increase of any state. The Black population increased from 1.1% to 3.4%.

Black populations in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire increased by 30% or more. Many Western states had increases of 20% or more.

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Still, 9% of Americans, 31.3 million people, live in counties where the Black population is 1% or less of the total population.  These counties are primarily, though not exclusively, in non-coastal states.

What else does census data say?

Data from the 2019 American Community Survey provides additional race and location information. For example. in 2019, people who at least partially identify as Black were younger than the population overall, with a median age of 30.9 compared to 37.2 in the total population.

Additional 2020 census data is not yet available. Future metrics can contextualize shifts in the Black population by age, household type, and more. They would also allow for the inclusion of people who identify ethnically as Hispanic and racially as Black in demographic analysis.

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Black families are larger than the average American family. They are also less likely to include married couples.

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Black Americans are also more likely to work in education, healthcare, or social assistance than the overall population.

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American Community Survey
Decennial Census