ATLANTA — The United States, including Georgia, became more urban and more diverse during the last decade, according to U.S. Census results released Thursday.
The first detailed data from the 2020 Census covering cities, counties and census blocks showed the concentration of Americans in the nation’s metropolitan areas increased from 84.3% in 2010 to 86.3% last year.
Population growth in Georgia during the decade was limited primarily to the counties in metro Atlanta and along the coast.
On the other hand, many of the counties in rural Georgia lost population between 2010 and 2020, including large swaths of South Georgia.
That trend was reflected across the country, as the nation’s more heavily populated counties grew while the smaller counties lost residents.
“The country’s population is increasingly metropolitan,” Marc Perry, senior demographer in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division, said during a news conference announcing the results.
Meanwhile, the nation’s population grew more diverse during the last decade.
While the country’s white population fell by 8.6% between 2010 and 2020, the Black population grew by 5.6%. The Hispanic and Asian populations also showed large increases.
The most diverse regions of the U.S. were in the South and West, including Georgia. Black residents make up the majority in many Georgia counties, primarily in parts of metro Atlanta, rural counties west of Augusta and in Southwest Atlanta, the Census found.
Nicholas Jones, the Census Bureau’s director of race and ethnic research, said data showing increased diversity across the nation resulted not only from demographic changes but from the way the 2020 Census was conducted. Improvements in how the questions were designed resulted in many Americans self-identifying as belonging to more than one race, he said.
Hispanics made up the largest minority group, with 62.1 million Americans self-identifying as Hispanic or Latino only. Black Americans self-identifying as members of one race only accounted for 41.1 million.
Thursday’s data release was the second from the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau reported in April that the total U.S. population grew by 7.4% between 2010 and 2020 to 331.4 million, the slowest growth rate since the 1930s.
Georgia remains the nation’s eighth-most populous state with a population of 10.7 million, up from 9.7 million a decade ago.
With the slower growth, only six states will receive more congressional seats. For the first time since the 1980 census, Georgia will not be among them.
The General Assembly will use the data to redraw Georgia’s congressional and legislative districts during a special legislative session this fall.
Ron Jarmin, the Census Bureau’s acting director, said the Census Bureau is getting out the data several months later than usual due to delays prompted by the pandemic.
Critics also blamed former President Donald Trump for delays caused by his administration’s unsuccessful attempt to ask Americans filling out census forms whether they are U.S. citizens, which was blocked in the federal courts.
Despite the delays, Jarmin vouched for the accuracy of the data.
“While no census is perfect, we are confident today’s redistricting data meet our high data quality standards,” he said.
The Census Bureau will release the same data it put out on Thursday in a different, more user-friendly form, by the end of next month.