Table of Contents
The Black population of the United States is growing. In 2021, there were an estimated 47.2 million people who self-identified as Black, making up 14.2% of the country’s population. This marks a 30% increase since 2000, when there were 36.3 million Black people living in the U.S.
Black Americans are diverse. This group consists of people with varied racial and ethnic identities and experiences. The nation’s Black population includes those who say their race is Black, either alone or in combination with other racial backgrounds. It also includes Hispanics or Latinos who say their race is Black.
This fact sheet is a profile of the demographic, geographic and economic characteristics of the U.S. Black population in 2021. To present detailed data about this group, charts and analysis about the Black population are analyzed through the lens of four different demographic groups:
- The total U.S. Black population
- Single-race, non-Hispanic Black people
- Multiracial, non-Hispanic Black people
- Black Hispanic people
Scroll down or click through the navigation bar on the left to read about various demographic and economic characteristics of the U.S. Black population.
Click here for a downloadable spreadsheet of these findings.
Related: Key facts about the nation’s 47.2 million Black Americans
The analysis presented in this fact sheet is based on Pew Research Center tabulations of microdata from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey (ACS), provided through the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) from the University of Minnesota.
All displayed numbers are rounded. Shares and percent changes are calculated using unrounded numbers. The detailed tables which have been made available display unrounded tabulations using IPUMS data.
This fact sheet rely on respondent self-identification of race and ethnicity in the Census Bureau’s 2021 ACS to identify the nation’s Black population. The racial and ethnic categories used in census data have changed over time – including question wording, formatting and instructions – and may affect how people identify by race and ethnicity. (Read “What Census Calls Us” for more details on how U.S. racial and ethnic categories have changed since 1790.) Moreover, respondents’ perceptions of the questions and their own racial and ethnic identity can change in response to individual circumstances and the way the nation sees race and itself.
Unless otherwise noted, adults are those who are ages 18 and older.
U.S. Black population or total Black population refers to the population of Americans who self-identify as Black in the United States. This includes those who say their race is only Black and that they are not Hispanic; those who say Black is one of two or more races in their identity and they are not Hispanic; and those who say they their race is Black alone or who say that one of their races is Black but also indicate they are of Hispanic or Latino origin. The terms Black population and Black people are used interchangeably in this fact sheet.
The terms single-race, non-Hispanic Black; single-race Black; and Black alone, non-Hispanic are used interchangeably throughout this fact sheet to refer to the same population. This population is made up of individuals who self-identify only as Black and do not identify as Hispanic or Latino.
The terms multiracial, non-Hispanic Black and multiracial Black are used interchangeably throughout this fact sheet to refer to people who self-identify with two or more races and do not identify as Hispanic or Latino.
The term Black Hispanic is used to refer to those who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino and as Black, either alone or in combination with other races. This group is not the same as the nation’s Afro-Latino population as not all Black Hispanics identify as Afro-Latino and not all Afro-Latinos identify as Black or Hispanic.
Foreign born refers to persons born outside of the United States to parents neither of whom was a U.S. citizen. The terms foreign born and immigrant are used interchangeably.
U.S. born refers to persons born in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. The term also refers to those born abroad to a parent who was a U.S. citizen.
In this publication, the general fertility rate refers to the share of females who gave birth in the previous 12 months. This measure of fertility does not account for the birth of more than one child by a single female in a 12-month period.
An estimated 47.2 million people in the U.S. identified as Black in 2021. The Black population has grown by more than 10 million since 2000, when 36.2 million of the U.S. population identified as Black, marking a 30% increase over two decades.
In 2021, there were 4.8 million foreign-born Black Americans, about 10% of the U.S. Black population. This is an increase from 2000, when 2.4 million people, or 7%, among the Black population were foreign born.
The U.S. Black population is young. The median age of Black people in 2021 was 33 years, five years younger than the U.S. population’s median age of 38. Roughly 30% of the entire Black population was below the age of 20 while 12% were 65 or older.
Just under half of the U.S. Black population (45%) was younger than 30 in 2021. A similar share (43%) was between 30 and 64 years old.
Fertility in the past year
The general fertility rate among Black females ages 15 to 44 was 5.8% in 2021, meaning that 5.8% of females in this age group had a birth in the previous 12 months.
The vast majority (97%) of the Black population as of 2021 speaks either only English (89%) or, if they speak another language, say they also speak English very well (8%). Besides English, other languages spoken at home by the U.S. Black population ages 5 and older include Spanish (3%), French or Haitian Creole (3%) and Amharic and other Ethiopian languages (1%).1
Regionally, the highest concentration of Black people in the U.S. in 2021 is in the South; more than half (56%) live there. Following the South, 17% live in each the Midwest and the Northeast and 10% live in the West.
When it comes to states of residence, Texas is home to the largest Black population, at about 4.0 million. Florida comes in a close second with 3.8 million, and Georgia comes in third, with 3.6 million.
Among metropolitan areas, the New York City metro area – which includes parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania – has the greatest number of Black residents (3.9 million). In a distant second is the Atlanta metro area, with 2.2 million, and then the Washington, D.C., metro area, with 1.8 million Black residents.
The median household income for Black U.S. households in 2021 is $46,400, which means half of households headed by a Black person earn more than that and half earn less.
Broader analysis shows that 52% of Black U.S. households earn less than $50,000, while 48% make $50,000 or more. Three-in-ten Black households (31%) make $75,000 or more, including 20% that make $100,000 or more.
About four-in-ten Black people (39%) live in U.S. households that are headed by married couples as of 2021. Roughly three-in-ten Black people (31%) live in households whose household head is female, and 5% live in male-headed households. Fewer than two-in-ten (16%) are part of non-family households.
About a quarter (26%) of all Black U.S. adults ages 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or more education. Another third (32%) have completed some college as of 2021, and roughly four-in-ten (42%) have, at most, graduated from high school (or earned an equivalent such as a GED certificate).
Two-thirds (66%) of all Black adults identify as Protestant. Roughly one-in-five (21%) are religiously unaffiliated, while smaller shares of adults identify as Catholic (6%), or with other Christian denominations (3%) or non-Christian faiths (3%).
For more, read “Faith Among Black Americans”