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Elizabeth Grieco/Race

Rachel Cassidy/Hispanic Origin


Census 2000 Shows America's Diversity

Census 2000 results released by the Census Bureau today show a racially diverse America. However, relatively few -- about 2.4 percent nationally -- took advantage of a first-ever option for respondents to identify themselves as belonging to more than one race.

The first of a series of Census 2000 briefs, titled Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin, showed the following for the 274.6 million people who reported only one race:

  • White 75.1 percent
  • Black or African American 12.3 percent
  • American Indian and Alaska Native 0.9 percent
  • Asian 3.6 percent
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 percent
  • Some other race 5.5 percent

The Census Bureau also reported that Hispanics, who may be of any race, totaled 35.3 million, or about 13 percent of the total population. This information was obtained from a separate question on Hispanic or Latino origin.

Of the 6.8 million people who reported more than one race, 93 percent reported two races. The most common combinations were:

  • White and some other race      32 percent
  • White and American Indian and Alaska Native       16 percent
  • White and Asian       nearly 13 percent
  • White and Black or African American      about 11 percent

Of all respondents who reported more than one race, about 7 percent indicated three or more races.

Those who reported only one race are described as "alone," those who selected one or more races as "alone or in combination." The "alone or in combination" percentages are shown below:

  • White 77.1
  • Black or African American 12.9
  • American Indian and Alaska Native 1.5
  • Asian 4.2
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.3
  • Some other race 6.6

Because anyone who reported two or more races is included in the tally for each of those races when using the "alone or in combination" concept, the sum of all these groups exceeds 100 percent of the population.

Nearly 48 percent of Hispanics identified as White alone and about 42 percent reported "Some other race" alone. About 6 percent of all Hispanics reported two or more races compared with less than 2 percent of non-Hispanics. Hispanics accounted for 97 percent of those who reported "Some other race" only.

The race categories for Census 2000 (except for "some other race," which the Census Bureau added) and the "two or more races" category were promulgated in federal race-reporting guidelines by the Office of Management and Budget in 1997. The changes were designed to reflect more accurately the nation's racial diversity.

The question on race for Census 2000 was different from the race question used for the 1990 census, making direct comparisons between the two censuses difficult. The major difference derives from instructing respondents to mark "one or more races" for the first time in a U.S. population census. Other differences include splitting the Asian and Pacific Islander category into two separate race categories in 2000; combining the three separate identifiers -- Indian (Amer.), Eskimo, Aleut -- in the category "American Indian or Alaska Native population"; and reversing the order of the questions on race and Hispanic origin, with the one on Hispanic origin placed first in 2000.

To view the Census 2000 brief in its entirety, including 11 national-level tables, go to <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014