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New Census data shows Idaho saw increased diversity, with growth among Black, Hispanic, and Asian groups

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The State of Idaho saw an increase in racial diversity over the last decade. While the state’s population is still made up predominantly of white people, most other groups are growing at a faster rate. That’s according to data compiled by the Census 2020 Data Co-Op.

The US Census Bureau completes a detailed survey of all residents across the US every ten years. In the period from 2010 to 2020, the State of Idaho’s growth zoomed – with each race category seeing an increase in population. But some groups saw larger percentage gains than others.

Idaho’s Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander groups all saw significant growth.

[Boise apt. rent rates grew faster than anywhere else. Now, they’re seeing the sharpest declines]

Statewide shifts

The largest-gaining category on a percentage basis was Idahoans who chose “other” on the Census form, growing 435.6%. However, this growth was on a small base, with just 1,539 folks selecting Other in 2010 and 8,243 in 2020.

People who identified “two or more races” on the form saw the second-highest growth rate, with 51,022 more people in 2020 over 2010 – an increase of 190.5%.

The number of Black Idahoans gained significantly – from 8,875 people to 14,785 – an increase of 66.6% over two years. The group is Idaho’s third-largest, as it was a decade ago.

The Census 2020 Data Co-Op also tracked people of Hispanic heritage in the Census and broke the group out separately. The federal government defines “‘Hispanic or Latino’ as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” The Data Co-Op then calculated Hispanics out separately and removed them from other categories: “In order to accurately reflect demographic changes, Census Mapper treats data on Hispanic/Latino origin as a race.”

There are more than 63,506 more Hispanic Idahoans in the last ten years, a growth rate of 36.1% – the second largest group.

The number of whites in Idaho gained the most in terms of raw numbers, but on a lower percentage rate than the state as a whole. Idaho added 17.3% more people over the ten-year period, while the growth rate for white residents was 10.2%.

The Diversity Index, a calculation that determines the likelihood two people chosen at random will be from different racial or ethnic groups, increase from 28 to 36, on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 representing the most diversity possible. The increase of eight points in Idaho is faster than the US as a whole, which increased six points. However, as you might expect, the number for Idaho is much lower than the nation as a whole – 36 for Idaho versus 61 for the full country.

Changes in Ada, Canyon

In Ada County, overall diversity increased by nine points to 34 on the Diversity Index scale, growing faster than the state as a whole, but still lagging two points behind Idaho’s score of 36. The county, home to Boise and Meridian, saw increases in every demographic group, led by Other and Two or more races. The number of Black Ada County residents jumped 85% while Hispanic residents increased by 62.1%. The county’s overall population jumped 26.2% – while the number of white Ada residents increased just 17.3%.

Canyon County remains one of the state’s most diverse, with a diversity index of 48, which is a growth of six points from 2010. Again, Other and Two or more races led the increases, followed by members of the Black and Hispanic communities. The county as a whole grew 22.3% and the number of white residents in the county increased 13.8%

The Census 2020 Data Co-Op is a project of the Associated Press, Big Local News at Stanford University, Census Reporter at Northwestern University and Poynter. Funding comes from the Google News Initiative and JSK Journalism Fellowships.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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