April 8, 2015

Reflecting a racial shift, 78 counties turned majority-minority since 2000

Where Minorities Became the Majority Between 2000 and 2013

In the United States as a whole, the white share of the population is declining as Hispanic, Asian and black populations grow. But the shift to a more diverse nation is happening more quickly in some places than in others.

From 2000 to 2013, 78 counties in 19 states, from California to Kansas to North Carolina, flipped from majority white to counties where no single racial or ethnic group is a majority, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. (Our analysis includes only counties with a minimum population of 10,000 in 2013.)

Overall, 266 of these 2,440 counties are less than half white. However, many are in urban areas that together account for about one-third (31%) of the nation’s population, despite making up just 11% of U.S. counties with a minimum population of 10,000. These counties are concentrated in California, the South and the East Coast, bypassing much of the country’s middle section.

In 19 of the 25 biggest U.S. counties by population, whites make up less than half of the population. Of these, six that were majority white in 2000 are no longer so: San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Sacramento counties (all in California), plus Clark County, Nev., and Broward County, Fla. In addition, whites could soon become the minority in two more counties – Tarrant in Texas (Fort Worth) and Wayne in Michigan (Detroit), both of which are now 50% white.

Another way to highlight the nation’s changing demographics is to see how many counties flipped in reverse. From 2000 to 2013, just two counties went from minority white to majority white: Calhoun County in South Carolina and West Feliciana Parish in Louisiana, each with relatively small populations of about 15,000.

Counties with a White Minority Are Mostly in Sun BeltAmong the 78 counties that between 2000 and 2013 went from majority white to places where whites are no longer more than half of the population, 14 were at least 60% white in 2000. Of these counties, those in Georgia stand out for having four of the five biggest percentage-point swings in their white-population share.

For example, in Henry County (pop. 211,000 in 2013), 35 miles south of Atlanta, the population’s white share fell from 80.1% in 2000 to 49.8% in 2013. In Gwinnett County (pop. 859,000 in 2013), also near Atlanta, the population dropped from 67.0% white to 41.6% over the same time period.

This trend stems from a flat or declining number of whites in each of these four Georgia counties (Douglas and Rockdale are the other two), combined with a large and growing black population and a smaller Hispanic population that is also increasing in number. (In recent years, many blacks have moved to the Atlanta area from Northern states as part of a return migration to the South.) Nonetheless, in all but one of the four counties, the white population remains the largest single racial or ethnic group there.

Even though the white share of the U.S. population is falling, non-Hispanic whites remain the nation’s largest racial or ethnic group, accounting for 63% of all Americans. And whites are at least half of the population in 89% of the nation’s counties with at least 10,000 residents.

For a closer look at counties that recently flipped, see the sortable table below:

Counties That Have Shifted to Majority-Minority Since 2000

Notes: The non-Hispanic white share of the population in Chatham County, Ga., was 49.97% in 2013. Percentages and percentage point change are rounded to one decimal place and then sorted. Percentage point change between 2000-2013 calculated prior to rounding.

Category: Sortable Table

Topics: Demographics, Race and Ethnicity, Population Trends, U.S. Census

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Jeff Robinson2 years ago

    This analysis makes a serious but unfortunately, very common error. It assumes that Hispanic is a race. Hispanic is not a race. It is an ethnic group. Hispanics can be white, black, or of some mix. Accepting this fact will make any demographic analysis much more complicated and difficult but it must be taken into account.

    1. Padriag2 years ago

      Mestizos , almost entirely from Mexico . With smaller numbers of pure Amer-Indians from dirt poor Central-American countries..One need only look at the state of the places they left to gauge what they’re arrival here portends for us..A demographic catastrophe for a once great nation.

      1. Normal White Guy2 years ago

        I’m okay with Native Americans and their descendants taking back their stolen lands. If you love being white so much why don’t you go back to Europe?

  2. jj2 years ago

    Kama History repeating itself remember the NATIVE INDIANDS who was killed and put to rest on reservations and stripped of their own land by the whities

  3. Conrad2 years ago

    The fact that our laws are written to make refugees and illegals feel welcome and allow them to stay is no accident. It is no accident that immigration laws remain unchanged or that they will not be changed in the future.

    Big business wants cheap labor, Democrat leaders want their votes and Repub leaders want money from big business. The border will remain open and illegals will remain in the USA.

    As we draw closer to the next big election expect appealing promises from the candidates. After election the winning candidates will take care of their friends; not you not I. Illegals will stay because they are cheap labor

  4. e. jones2 years ago

    Very interesting article; I am just wondering when you say white pop in these counties has remained flat, but there has been an influx of minorities does this mean the counties overall are doing well as far as housing and job growth to sustain the influxes?
    I would also be curious to know if the reverse changes in migration have occurred anywhere in the country; the minority population remaining flat and the non Hispanic white population exiting, which parts of the country —if any– may have seen that kind of shift?

    1. Resident2 years ago

      I live in Rockdale County. When the changes began in 2000, I heard from many of the incoming residents that a rumor was circulating in black communities that ‘Oprah said’ Rockdale was the place to move for jobs and cheap living. Unfortunately, there are no jobs here, there is no public transportation, and while prices are lower here than up north, so are salaries. Economically, Rockdale was always a poorer county, but now it is a poorer county with a crime problem. Rockdale saw a sharp increase in crime, and continues to have problems with break ins, armed robberies, and violent crime. Our house has the door kicked in and we were robbed; the first time in 40+ years of living in Rockdale. The percentage of disadvantaged students in the schools has skyrocketed. Many long time white residents moved out because of the crime influx and the disciplinary issues and racial bullying in the school system. Housing? Yes, there’s housing. But that is all.

  5. Nick Giotta2 years ago

    I believe now that I am a minority white I should be able to have all of the non whites pay for my support and paid education for my children along with food, medical, housing, cell phones, internet service and so much more that I used to have pay for when I was in the majority. Oh yeah no taxes either. In fact I demand to be treated better now by the majority population. The one thing I won’t do that the majority does is be a Socialist Democrat, I will remain a conservative constitutionlist.

  6. jevad2 years ago

    I bet I can create a Map that will predict the least accessible polling places in the country and it would look surprisingly similar!!