Nearly seven million people said they belong to more than one race, suggesting increased diversity in a nation where minority groups are growing significantly faster than the white population, according to the 2000 Census data.
Americans were allowed to identify themselves as a member of more than one race for the first time in census history. More than 2 percent of the nations’ 281.4 million people chose this multiracial option from among six choices, according to various news agencies.
Four percent of Americans younger than 18 were multiracial, compared with 1.9 percent of adults. The number of interracial couples, which has more than quadrupled, was the major reason for this newly revealed trend, census officials said.
“The nation is much more diverse in the year 2000 than it was in 1990,” said Jorge del Pinal of the Census Bureau, as quoted in the Washington Post. “That diversity is much more complex than we’ve ever measured before.”
The Hispanic population, now 35.3 million, rose 58 percent over the past decade.
The United States is moving beyond a black-white paradigm of race, said Sonia M. Perez, a deputy vice president at the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization, according to the New York Times.
Five percent of blacks, 6 percent of Hispanics, 14 percent of Asians and 2.5 percent of whites identified themselves as multiracial.
Almost one in three Americans is a member of a minority, compared with one in five in 1980. The nation’s Hispanic population is roughly equal to the slower-growing black population, the largest minority to date. These two minorities make up about 13 percent of the nation’s population.
Asian Americans, whose numbers also rose rapidly, constitute about 4 percent of the population.
Officials acknowledged that “Hispanic” is a catch-all term designed to cover an array of Spanish-speaking people. In the federal statistical system, ethnic origin is considered separate from race, according to the Times.
Another surprising fact revealed in the 2000 Census was the number of American Indians and Alaska natives who defined themselves only by that category, which grew by 26 percent in the past decade to 2.5 million.
To learn more about the 2000 Census data, please visit http://www.census.gov.