Race in the USA - Demography

At the start of 2016, the US population was 323 million. The population continues to grow and is expected to exceed 400 million in 2050. Some groups are growing in size faster than others.

At the most recent census survey, the population was:

  • 62.6% White
  • 17.1% Hispanic or Latino
  • 13.2% African American/Black
  • 5.3% Asian American
  • 1.4% Other

In terms of languages spoken,

  • 82.1% of Americans speak English as their first language
  • Spanish 10.7%
  • other Indo-European 3.8%
  • Asian and Pacific island 2.7%
  • other 0.7%

African Americans

The African American population exceeds 500,000 in 15 states. African Americans are the largest minority group in 24 states, compared with 20 states in which Hispanics are the largest minority group.

The population of the US capital, Washington DC is comprised of 51% African Americans. The state with the highest concentration of African Americans is Mississippi (37%). More than half (54%) of the African American population live in the South.

The racial disparity in poverty rates has narrowed. The black middle class grew substantially in 2000 and 47% of African Americans owned their homes.

In 2004, African American workers had the second-highest median earnings of American minority groups after Asian Americans. In 2001, over half of African American households of married couples earned $50,000 or more. In 2010, about 1.1million African Americans earned over $100,000 a year.

The affirmative action programmes which help African Americans attend university and/or get jobs has also had an impact.

Hispanic population

According to the 2010 US census, 22% of Hispanic people were living in poverty, nearly double the national average of 12.6%. Many Hispanic people living in America are well off, especially those of Cuban origin in states such as Florida. However, the plight of illegal Hispanic immigrants living in poverty is a subject of concern.

Just as African slaves played a key part in the building of America, human rights activists claim illegal immigrants are the slaves of modern America. In order to escape the grinding poverty in central and south American nations - especially of Mexico, many risk their lives to reach 'El Norte', slang in Mexico for The North. A high concentration of Hispanic people live in proximity to the border with Mexico.