District Overview: Hispanics Play Different Role in District's Growth than in Nation's

Rubén Hernández-Murillo , Christopher J. Martinek

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the 2010 redistricting data for the nation. These data are the first to provide local-level information on population, race/ethnicity, age and housing unit counts from the 2010 census. Aside from helping define congressional district boundaries, the data reveal interesting trends over the past decade across various demographic groups. One trend that has received a lot of attention is the dramatic growth of the Hispanic population, which in 2010 represented 16.3 percent of the nation's population.1 The demographic trends in the Eighth Federal Reserve District in terms of population growth by racial and ethnic categories were quite different from the national trends.2

The table provides a snapshot of population growth by race and Hispanic origin in the U.S. and the Eighth District. The top panel summarizes differences in rural and urban areas, while the bottom panel illustrates population trends across metropolitan areas in the Eighth District.

TABLE: Detailed Data on 2010 Census.pdf

(This table is being provided in PDF form only because of its size; in the print version of The Regional Economist, it takes up almost an entire page.)

Overall Population Growth

Between 2000 and 2010, the nation's population grew by 9.7 percent to 308,745,538. About 56 percent of the growth in U.S. total population was accounted for by individuals who identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino (5.4 out of 9.7 percent). In the Eighth District, total population between 2000 and 2010 increased by 6.2 percent to 14,569,665. Hispanics represented 3.6 percent of the District's total population.

Although the contribution to growth of the Hispanic population was the largest among all groups, it accounted for only about a third of total population growth (2.0 out of 6.2 percent). Almost 50 percent of the total growth in the Eighth District was accounted for by the combined growth of non-Hispanic individuals who identified themselves as non-Hispanic white alone or non-Hispanic black alone (1.7 and 1.3, respectively, out of 6.2 percent). Growth in the non-Hispanic Asian population was the second largest contributor to national population growth, representing about 15 percent of overall growth (1.5 out of 9.7 percent), but in the Eighth District, the population growth of non-Hispanic Asians accounted for only about 8 percent of overall growth (0.5 out of 6.2 percent).

Rural and Urban Growth

Although Hispanics' contribution to overall growth was less dramatic in the Eighth District than in the nation as a whole, breaking up total population across urban and rural counties reveals that Hispanic population growth was a more important contributor to rural population growth in the Eighth District than in the nation. This distinction is important because the Eighth District is more rural than the nation as a whole.

The 2010 census indicates that 39.1 percent of the District's population lives in rural counties, while only about 17 percent of the nation's population lives in rural counties.3 The growth in rural population of the nation was 4.4 percent, while the growth in urban population was 10.8 percent. The population in rural counties of the Eighth District grew by 1.6 percent, while population in urban counties grew by 9.4 percent.4

In terms of contributions to growth, Hispanic population growth accounted for about 55 percent of the nation's population growth for both rural and urban counties (2.4 of 4.4 percent in rural counties and 6 of 10.8 percent in urban counties). In contrast, Hispanic population growth accounted for 75 percent of relatively modest rural population growth in the Eighth District (1.2 of 1.6 percent) and slightly more than 25 percent of urban population growth (2.5 of 9.4 percent).

MSA Population Growth

Across the Eighth District's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), with the exception of Pine Bluff, Ark., population increased in every metropolitan area from 2000 to 2010. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.-Mo., led the District MSAs with a 33.5 percent population growth. The largest contributions to growth in this location came from the Hispanic population, with about 34 percent of overall growth (11.6 of 33.5 percent) and from non-Hispanic white individuals, with about 47 percent of overall growth (15.9 of 33.5 percent).

Population growth in most of the District MSAs was driven predominantly by growth in the non-Hispanic white population. The exceptions were Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.; Texarkana, Texas-Ark.; Jackson, Tenn.; and most notably, Pine Bluff, Ark., where decreases in the non-Hispanic white population subtracted from overall growth. In contrast, growth in the St. Louis, Mo.-Ill., and Jonesboro, Ark., areas can be predominantly attributed to growth in the non-Hispanic black population. Growth in the non-Hispanic Asian population also made up a significant proportion of total population growth in the St. Louis MSA. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla., and Owensboro, Ky., more closely resembled the national trend of Hispanic population growth accounting for the largest share of total population growth.


  1. The census collects race and Hispanic origin information in accordance with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) 1997 Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, which prescribe that race and Hispanic origin be considered distinct concepts necessitating the separate questions. [back to text]
  2. For the purposes of this article, we compare Hispanics with individuals who reported non-Hispanic origin and only one race (white, black or Asian) to form mutually exclusive categories. [back to text]
  3. Urban counties, here, are defined as those making up part of a census-designated metropolitan statistical area. [back to text]
  4. Some counties of MSAs listed in the lower portion of the table are located outside of the District and are not included in the figures presented in the upper portion. For example, in the Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla., MSA, Sequoyah County, Okla., is located outside of the District. Similarly, some counties located in MSAs considered outside the District and not included in the lower portion of the table are included in the tabulation for the upper portion of the table, for example, Greene County, Ind., in the Bloomington, Ind., MSA. [back to text]

Census Changes

Unlike previous censuses, the 2010 census did not include a "long form" questionnaire. Previously, the long form was given to roughly one in six households to gather information on such things as educational attainment, income, housing costs and other socio-economic characteristics of the population. (The long form continues to be administered every year as part of the American Community Survey.)

One of the reasons for eliminating the long form was to improve return rates. The mail participation rate for the 2010 census was 74 percent of occupied households, the same rate that was achieved for the 2000 census short form. However, when the elimination of the long form is factored in, a larger portion of questionnaires was returned in 2010.

The Census Bureau makes an attempt to follow up with households that do not respond by mail; the bureau will call, visit the household or contact neighbors and building managers. As a last resort, the bureau will impute counts using statistical models that reflect the characteristics of the neighborhood. By the time all the methods of filling in missing forms are exhausted, the bureau determines the proportion of records that provide usable information. Last year, this proportion was 99.62 percent, slightly higher than the 2000 proportion of 99.43 percent.

In addition to the response rates, the bureau considers several other measures of accuracy of the data-collection process. One of the most important post-census process indicators is the Census Coverage Measurement survey, a quality-check survey of 300,000 households. Results from this survey will be matched to census responses to estimate overcounts and undercounts by geography, ethnicity, race, gender and age. The bureau will publish the results next year but will not revise existing population count estimates.


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