(WXMI) — Usually on a clockwork schedule, this year the pandemic delayed the results of the 2020 U.S. census. On Thursday, the Census Bureau finally shared the delayed data sets, the first of two dates picked to share information with the public.
“These data play an important role in our democracy and also begin to illuminate how the local and demographic makeup of our nation has changed over the last decade,” said Dr. Ron Jarmin, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “Local leaders can use this data to make decisions such as where to build roads and hospitals and how to help our nation recover from the pandemic.”
And there were some significant changes of note over the last decade.
The U.S. population is now 331,449,281 — an increase of 22.7 million since 2010. It’s the second-smallest rate of decade-to-decade population growth ever, behind only the 1930s.
Smaller counties (with fewer than 50,000 residents) shrunk across the nation while the opposite was true for larger counties with over 50,000 people. The Grand Rapids-Kentwood metro area, for the first time ever, surpassed the one-million-person marker for population.
While the nation's population grew, West Virginia, Mississippi and Illinois lost people in their population count.
Racial data was another key set for this decade’s census. For the first time, the bureau added criteria in their racial-data-collection category to expand tracking to multiracial census takers. In fact, that newly added category yielded the most significant changes in this year’s count.
“Not just looking at a construct that’s binary but also looking at ways that we see how people are interrelated and interconnected across the country,” said Nicholas Jones, director of race and ethnicity for the Census Bureau. “In the 2020 census, for all race groups, their in-combination, multi-racial populations accounted for most of the overall changes in each racial category.”
It's an increase of 733 percent since 2010, Jones says. This census, the population of people who identified as multiracial surpassed the African-American population as the second-largest racial group in the U.S.
Other data of note: for the first time, the non-Hispanic white population dipped below 60 percent.
It will all play a massive role in the ongoing redistricting process in Michigan. Now, state and local leaders have what they need to begin redrawing congressional districts. In April, it was announced that Michigan’s population decrease would cost the Mitten a congressional seat. While it’s still unclear what the new congressional districts will look like, losing a seat in the Electoral College in the next election cycle is a sure thing.
“Michigan is a competitive state,” said Fabiola Rodriguez with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “Grand Rapids should anchor its own congressional district to reflect this growth…with counties in northern and central Michigan losing population, the lost seats should come from this area.”
Thursday’s data sets were released in what the bureau calls "legacy format" — a more technical version of the numbers. On Sept. 30, the bureau will rerelease the same data on their site in a more user-friendly format complete with maps and charts that make the data easy to understand.