California’s Asian population grew by 25% in the past decade, making it the fastest-growing ethnic group in the nation’s most populous state, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.
California’s white population plummeted by 24% between 2010 and 2020, confirming California is one of three states — along with New Mexico and Hawaii — where whites are not the largest ethnic group.
Hispanics surpassed whites as California’s largest ethnic group in 2014. The Census data show California’s Hispanic population grew by 11% to 15.5 million people, making up just shy of 40% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents.
But it was the Asian population that had the biggest percentage gain over the past decade. California now has more than 6 million people of Asian descent — more than the total population of most other states.
Ten years ago, none of California’s 58 counties counted Asians as their largest ethnic group. Now, two do: Alameda County, which includes the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, and Santa Clara County, home to San Jose — the nation’s 10th most-populous city — and the technology capitol of Silicon Valley.
“I think the story nationwide focuses primarily on the Hispanic population, but in California … I think the Asian population, in particular related to the growth in the younger age groups, is sort of a major driver of factors as to why we see this large increase over the past 10 years,” said Noli Brazil, a demographer at the University of California-Davis.
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The data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau will be the foundation for redrawing 429 U.S. House districts in 44 states. Republicans need five seats to win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Data released earlier this year shows Democratic-heavy California will lose a Congressional seat for the first time in its history because its population grew at a slower rate compared to other states.