U.S. population data by race

Population data a key starting point for any consideration of equality or inequality. When we look at statistics on a per-capita or per-household basis — for example, median wealth per household — judging equality generally means looking for data to be the same across racial groups.

However, if we look at totals — total wealth in the U.S., for instance — then knowing the population breakdown is important. If a certain racial group accounts for a certain percentage of the population, then, in an equal society, we would expect that group to account for a similar percentage across other variables.

For example, in the table below, 13.4% of the U.S. population is Black or African American. That means that we’d expect roughly 13.4% of the wealth in the country belonging to Black or African American citizens. We’d expect around 13.4% of state governors to be Black or African American. And in our prisons, we’d expect to see that around 13.4% of prisoners are Black or African American.

2019 U.S. Population by Race

Number (millions)Percentage
White alone251.176.5%
Black or African American alone4413.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone4.31.3%
Asian alone19.45.9%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone0.70.2%
Two or More Races8.92.7%
Source: Census.gov, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US#

You may notice that “Hispanic” is missing from the table. On its site, the U.S. Census Bureau writes:

The U.S. Census Bureau adheres to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) definition of ethnicity. There are two minimum categories for ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. OMB considers race and Hispanic origin to be two separate and distinct concepts. Hispanics and Latinos may be of any race. Thus, the percent Hispanic should not be added to percentages for racial categories.

In other words, those of Hispanic heritage are captured in the numbers above. However, the Census Bureau does further break out Hispanic ethnicity versus white, non-Hispanic, as follows:

2019 U.S. Population by Hispanic Origin

Number (millions)Percentage
Hispanic or Latino60.118.3%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino198.360.4%
Source: Census.gov, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US#

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