U.S. Census Releases 2021 Population Estimates: Nation Continues to Age as It Becomes More Diverse
From the U.S. Census:
The last two decades have seen the country grow continuously older. Since 2000, the national median age – the point at which one-half the population is older and one-half younger – has increased by 3.4 years, with the largest single-year gain of 0.3 years coming in 2021, bringing it to 38.8 years, according to newly released 2021 Population Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Median age for most states also increased from 2020 to 2021, indicating their populations are getting older overall.
“The states with the lowest median ages saw the largest increases between 2020 to 2021. While Utah remained the youngest state in the nation, the state’s median age increased by 0.3 years from 31.5 to 31.8. Similarly, the District of Columbia had the second-lowest median age but saw the largest increase of 0.5 years from 34.4 to 34.9,” said Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “With birth rates trending downwards and the aging of the Baby Boom and Generation X cohorts, the median age will likely continue to rise in the coming years.”
Only one state’s population – Maine – became slightly younger, as its median age decreased from 44.8 in 2020 to 44.7 in 2021. Although its median age decreased, Maine remained the state with the oldest median age in the nation, after more than two decades of getting older each year. During that same period, 47 states experienced an increase in median age. Montana (40.1), New Hampshire (43.0) and West Virginia (42.8) were the only states that had no change in median age.
The median age in over one-half (57%) of all U.S. counties and equivalents increased, and 74% of counties had higher median ages than the nation. Six counties had median ages greater than or equal to 60 years – Sumter County, Florida (68.3); Kalawao County, Hawaii (65.5); Catron County, New Mexico (61.8); Harding County, New Mexico (60.3); Charlotte County, Florida (60.2) and Jeff Davis County, Texas (60). The counties or equivalents with the youngest median ages in the nation were Lexington City, Virginia (22.2); Todd County, South Dakota (23.0); Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska (23.7); Madison County, Idaho (23.7) and Radford City, Virginia (24.4).
Metropolitan statistical areas consist of one or more whole counties or county equivalents and at least one urban area with a population of 50,000 or more. The median age increased in about 76% of metro areas (290) between 2020 and 2021. The three largest increases were in Lake Charles, LA, where the median age rose from 36.5 to 37.4; Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC, which increased by 0.8 years to 47.8; and San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA, where the median age crossed the 40-years-of-age threshold, increasing from 39.4 to 40.1. At 25.7 years, Provo-Orem, UT, was the metro with the lowest median age in 2021. Conversely, The Villages, FL, had the highest median age – 68.3 years.
Regionally, the Northeast was the oldest in 2021 with a median age of 40.4, followed by the Midwest (39.0), the South (38.6) and the West – which experienced the largest increase, 0.3 years to 37.7.
A More Diverse Nation
Note: References to race and Hispanic origin compositions are for race-alone-or-in-combination groups or Hispanic populations of any race unless otherwise specified.
While aging, the nation is also becoming more diverse. Nationally, all race and Hispanic origin groups experienced population increases, apart from the White population, which declined slightly by 0.03%. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population was the fastest-growing race or Hispanic origin category between 2020 and 2021, increasing by 1.54% in the 12-month period. Hispanic (of any race) was the largest gaining and second-fastest-growing race or Hispanic origin category, increasing by 767,907 or 1.24%.
Other highlights for each race and Hispanic origin category and Puerto Rico:
- The White population in the United States was 260,183,037 in 2021, a decrease of 0.03% or 79,836 people since 2020.
- California had the largest White population, totaling 29,365,260 – followed by Texas with a White population of 23,593,392. Texas also had the largest-gaining White population, which grew by 184,747 in 2021.
- Idaho had the fastest growth (2.8% or 49,918) in its White population from 2020 to 2021.
- Among counties, Los Angeles County, California, had the largest White population at 7,184,792, while Maricopa County, Arizona, had the largest increase in its White population (40,378 or 1.1%) between 2020 and 2021.
- The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metro area had the nation’s largest White population, (13,120,012). Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ was the largest-gaining metro area, increasing by 56,905 to 4,202,038, while the St. George, UT metro area had the fastest-growing White population, increasing by 5.1% (8,775).
Black or African American
- The Black population in the United States in 2021 totaled 49,586,352, up 0.7% from July 2020. The Black population in 2021 comprised 14.9% of the nation.
- Texas had the largest Black population in 2021, totaling 4,190,554 – an increase of 83,478 (2.0%) since July 2020. Idaho had the fastest-growing Black population, expanding 5.7% between 2020 and 2021.
- The median size of the Black population for counties in 2021 was 1,280 people.
- Cook County, Illinois, and Harris County, Texas, had the largest Black populations with totals of 1,279,976 and 1,006,791, respectively, making them the only counties in the nation with Black populations over 1 million.
- The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metro area had the largest Black population at 4,194,108 in 2021. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA was the largest-gaining metro area, increasing by 36,004 to 2,308,337. Of metro areas with 20,000 or more Black residents, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA had the fastest-growing Black population (43,241), increasing by 7.1% from 2020 to 2021.
- The Asian population in the United States was 23,962,215 in 2021, up 281,167 or 1.2% from 2020.
- California had the largest Asian population (7,139,394), followed by New York (2,032,935) and Texas (1,842,911), respectively. Idaho, with an increase of 5.4%, had the fastest-growing Asian population in 2021.
- The median Asian population in counties was 265.
- California was home to the three counties with the largest Asian populations in 2021. Los Angeles County had the biggest Asian population (1,713,784), followed by Santa Clara County (821,135) and Orange County (802,288).
- The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metro area had the largest Asian population (2,633,881). Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX was the largest-gaining metro area, increasing by 24,288, to 686,834 from 2020 to 2021. Of metro areas with an Asian population of 20,000 or more, Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY was the fastest-growing, increasing by 7.4% to 52,252.
American Indian or Alaska Native
- The American Indian and Alaska Native population reached 7,206,898 between July 2020 and July 2021, an increase of 74,291 or 1.0%. California had the largest American Indian and Alaska Native population at 1,121,423, followed by Oklahoma at 574,171. Idaho had the fastest-growing American Indian and Alaska Native population in the nation, with a 3.3%, increase, while Texas was the largest gaining among this population that increased by 11,328 to 510,537.
- The median American Indian and Alaska Native population in U.S. counties was 429 in 2021.
- Los Angeles County had the largest American Indian and Alaska Native population (236,222).
- The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metro area had the largest American Indian and Alaska Native population at 336,842. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ was the largest-gaining metro area, where this population increased by 4,832 to 208,094. Of metro areas with an American Indian and Alaska Native population of 20,000 or more, Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX was the fastest growing, increasing by 3.0% to 47,074.
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
- The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population rose to 1,709,860, an increase of 1.5% or 25,989 individuals in 2021.
- Hawaii had the largest Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population with 399,045, followed by California (375,388) and Washington (105,305). Iowa had the fastest-growing Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population that increased 11.1% from 2020 to 2021 – while Texas was the largest gaining, increasing by 2,652.
- The median Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population for counties in 2021 was 40.
- Clark County, Nevada, had the largest numeric population growth (1,295) among this group between 2020 and 2021.
- The Urban Honolulu, HI metro area had the largest Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population (260,085). Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV was the largest-gaining metro area, increasing by 1,295 to 42,825. Of metro areas with a Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population of 20,000 or more, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX was the fastest-growing, increasing by 3.9% to 22,286 in 2021.
Hispanic Origin (Any Race)
- The Hispanic population grew by 767,907, in 2021, an increase of 1.2%.
- California (15,754,605), Texas (11,857,401) and Florida (5,830,908) were the states with the largest Hispanic populations in 2021. New York (-1.1%) and the District of Columbia (-2.5%) were the only state and equivalent that experienced drops in their Hispanic populations in 2021. Maine (5.4%) and Montana (5.4%) were the states with the fastest-growing Hispanic populations.
- The median Hispanic population for counties in 2021 was 1,217 people.
- Los Angeles County had the largest Hispanic population (4,824,989) in 2021, followed by Harris County, Texas, with 2,097,602 and Miami-Dade County, Florida, with 1,838,864. Riverside County, California, had the largest gaining Hispanic population, which grew by 34,289 or 2.8% in 2021.
- The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA metro area had the largest Hispanic population (5,905,582). Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA was the largest-gaining metro area, increasing by 55,236 to 2,492,300. Of metro areas with a Hispanic population of 20,000 or more, Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL was the fastest-growing, increasing by 9.3% to 206,452.
Puerto Rico Municipios
- The median age in Puerto Rico increased from 43.8 to 44.2, and the median age increased in all municipios between 2020 and 2021.
- Hormigueros and Rincón were the oldest municipios; both had a median age of 49.6 in 2021.
- With a median age of 40.0, Barranquitas was Puerto Rico’s youngest municipio.
- In 2021, 52.7% of Puerto Rico’s population was female.
- Vieques was the only majority male (50.4%) municipio.
The race data in these estimates may not be consistent with 2020 Census data. The race categories from each census are reconciled with those race categories that appear in the data from administrative records, which are used to produce population estimates. Due to this, race detail found in the estimates may not match what is found in the decennial census. Additionally, due to methodological changes, the estimates are developed from a base population that combines estimates from Vintage 2020 and 2020 Demographic Analysis with total population from the 2020 Census; no race or Hispanic origin data from the 2020 Census were used in the development of the Vintage 2021 estimates series. For more information, please see the Population Estimates Methodology Statement.
Unless otherwise specified, the statistics refer to the population that reported a race-alone-or-in-combination with one or more races. Censuses and surveys permit respondents to select more than one race; consequently, people may be one race or a combination of races. The detailed tables show statistics for the population by “race alone” and “race-alone-or-in-combination.” The sum of the populations for the five race-alone-or-in-combination groups adds to more than the total population because individuals may report more than one race. The federal government treats Hispanic origin and race as separate and distinct concepts. In surveys and censuses, separate questions are asked on Hispanic origin and race. The question on Hispanic origin asks respondents if they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.
This is the last release of the vintage 2021 population estimates. Previous estimates for vintage 2021 included national, state, county, metro/micro area, city and town total population and components of change and are available on the Population Estimates page.
In December, the Census Bureau will release 2022 Population Estimates by components of change and the population ages 18 and over for the nation, states and Puerto Rico. The full release schedule for 2022 is available online. With each new release of annual estimates, the entire time series of estimates is revised for all years back to the date of the last census. All previously published estimates (e.g., old vintages) are superseded and archived on the FTP2 site.
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