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Mixed-Race Americans Emerge From Obscurity as Rate Surges

Photographer: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times via Redux

Mixed-race siblings Sophia Greenwood, 7, right, helps her younger sister, Noelle, 21 months, into a car seat at their home in Tom's River, N.J. The population of mixed-race Americans like the Greenwood family is growing quickly, driven largely by immigration and intermarriage. Close

Mixed-race siblings Sophia Greenwood, 7, right, helps her younger sister, Noelle, 21... Read More

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Photographer: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times via Redux

Mixed-race siblings Sophia Greenwood, 7, right, helps her younger sister, Noelle, 21 months, into a car seat at their home in Tom's River, N.J. The population of mixed-race Americans like the Greenwood family is growing quickly, driven largely by immigration and intermarriage.

The percentage of people identifying themselves as multiracial grew three-and-a-half times faster during the last decade than the number of Americans reporting a single race, the U.S. Census Bureau said today.

The percentage of those who described themselves as multiracial grew 32 percent. The number saying they were a combination of white and black rose 134 percent; those saying they were white and Asian increased 87 percent. The number of people who said they were a single race rose 9.2 percent.

While they make up only 9 million of the nation’s 308.7 million people, multiracial Americans “exemplify the important changes that have occurred among people who reported more than one race over the last decade,” the Census Bureau said in its report.

The bureau first began allowing people to describe themselves as multiracial in 2000. People can identify as white, black, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, “other,” or any combination. Ninety-two percent of multiracial Americans reported that they identified with two races; less than 1 percent reported being four or more races.

Southern States

More than one-third of multiracial Americans live in California, Texas and New York, the nation’s three most-populous states. There were 1.8 million multiracial people living in California in 2010, almost 5 percent of the state’s population. Hawaii reported 24 percent of its residents were multiracial, the largest of any state.

The rate of growth among those three states was fastest in Texas, where the number of multiracial people grew 31.9 percent. The number in New York fell 0.7 percent to 585,900, down from the 590,200 tallied in the 2000 Census.

Six of the 10 states registering the fastest-growing multiracial population were in the South. Multiracial Americans almost doubled their numbers in North Carolina to 206,199. They make up 2.2 percent of the state’s population.

Among cities, Honolulu registered the largest percentage of multiracial people, with 16.3 percent of its 337,256 residents describing themselves as being at least two races.

Fairfield, California, ranked second, with 8.8 percent. Anchorage, with the nation’s highest concentration of people citing Native and white origins, was third with 8.1 percent, virtually tied with Tacoma, Washington. All the remaining top 10 cities with the highest percentages of multiracial Americans were in California.

New York City reported 325,901 people describing themselves as multiracial, the most in the nation. Los Angeles was No. 2, with 175,635.

The Census Bureau said 1 in 3 people who claimed to be multiracial said they were of Hispanic ethnicity. The Census doesn’t include Hispanic as a race; instead, people can be either Hispanic or non-Hispanic, and then one of the six races.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frank Bass in New York at Fbass1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark McQuillan at mmcquillan@bloomberg.net

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