Colorado, like the rest of the country, is diversifying as it grows, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.
Updated population data released Thursday — figures that will inform new congressional and legislative maps ahead of the 2022 election, plus federal budget allocation — offers a detailed look at how the state and country have changed demographically since 2010.
Colorado fits right in with several of the biggest nationwide trends shown by the data, including continued migration south and west, away from the midwest and northeast. The state and country are also less white overall. A record low of about 58% of people nationally now identify as non-Hispanic white, the census reports.
Here are some of the top-line, state-level takeaways from the new data:
Colorado’s population grew like a weed
Colorado added almost a million new residents — 774,518 — between 2010 and 2020, growing the state’s population by 14.8% to 5.8 million residents.
Percentage-wise, the state’s population growth is among the highest in the nation, topped only by Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Texas. Those states saw their populations increase between 16% and 17%.
The state’s growth bucks a nationwide trend. Overall, the country’s population growth slowed dramatically this decade, Census Bureau senior demographer Marc Perry said in a news conference Thursday.
“Only the 1930s had slower growth,” he said.
Weld County led the way
Much of Colorado’s population growth in the last decade was centered on the Front Range, and Weld County’s population boom led the way by far, growing a whopping 30%, the census data shows. The county went from 253,000 residents in 2010 to 329,000 in 2020.
The Greeley metro area was the fourth-fastest growing in the nation, behind metro areas for The Villages in Florida, Austin in Texas, and St. George in Utah.
Nationwide, 52% of counties saw population loss during the last decade, said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau. Population growth was centered in larger counties and those in metro areas, he said.
That tracks in Colorado, too. Counties on the eastern edge of the state showed little-to-no population growth, and both Kit Carson and Bent counties saw their populations drop by 14% and 13%, respectively.
Denver added more than 115,000 new residents
Denver was one of just 14 cities nationwide to add more than 100,000 new residents between 2010 and 2020. The city’s population grew about 20% in the last decade, adding about 115,000 new residents to bring the population to 715,000.
Nationwide, most of the cities with that level of growth were located in the south and west, Perry said. An exception is New York City, which grew the most, adding 600,000 new residents.
Despite Denver’s population gains, the city wasn’t one of the top 10 fastest growing cities in the nation, Perry said. None of Colorado’s cities made that list, which was largely made up of suburbs of larger cities, and was topped by Buckeye, Arizona. That suburb of Phoenix grew by nearly 80%.
Colorado’s white majority has a smaller share
Colorado ranks in the middle among states with 65.1% of the population identifying as white alone — the 27th highest proportion in the country. (There are only three states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, where the plurality racial group is non-white.)
That’s about where the state ranked in 2010, but the overall white majority here is shrinking. A decade ago it was 70%. This reflects a national trend: America’s white population fell by 8.6% overall since 2010.
The shrinking of this group in Colorado isn’t happening as quickly as in most other states. Colorado ranks in the top 10 nationally for rate of decrease in population identifying as white alone.
All but three Colorado counties have a white plurality
In three Colorado counties — Alamosa, Conejos and Costilla — Latinos make up a plurality of the population. Costilla leads the three with 56.8% of its population identifying as Latino only.
The whitest county in Colorado? Mineral County, the third least populous in the state. It happens to sit just west of the three plurality-Latino counties.
More Coloradans — and Americans — identify as multiracial
Nationwide there were 9 million people in 2010 identifying as multiracial, according to the Census Bureau. The total as of 2020 is 33.8 million — a 276% increase.
The increase was even higher in Colorado, at 310%. About 700,000 people here said in 2020 they identified as two or more races, up from 172,000 a decade ago. The percentage increase in Denver was roughly in line with the statewide number.
In Denver and statewide, this racial group is by far the fastest-growing among those tracked by the Census Bureau. But the agency warns that these major shifts in part reflect changes to how the census is conducted, “taking into account the improvements we have made to the Hispanic origin and race questions and the ways we code what people tell us.”
The Black population is concentrated, growing
In 41 of Colorado’s 64 counties, the Black population accounts for less than 1% of the total. The state’s Black residents are primarily living in a handful of counties, with the highest percentage shares in Arapahoe, Denver and Crowley counties — each above 8%.
Black Americans account for slightly less of the overall population nationwide,than they did in 2010. The drop there was from 12.6% to 12.2%. Colorado actually saw a slight increase, as Black people now represent 4.1% of the population, up from 4% a decade ago. (The Native population’s share here grew by a similarly slight percentage — 0.2%.)
This population concentration can be observed for other racial groups designated by the census. For example, Coloradans identifying as Asian alone account for 3.5% of the state, but only six counties, all in the Denver metro area, have at least a 3.5% Asian-alone population.
Latino population share grows
Nationally, the population of people identifying as Latino or Hispanic is fast-growing, now accounting for 18.7% of the country, up from 16.3% a decade ago.
Colorado is also seeing substantial growth in this group, which now represents 21.9% of the state, up from 20.7% in 2010.
Though 1.2% may not sound like much of a bump, there are a lot of people behind that figure: Colorado added more than 224,000 people who identify as Latino over the last 10 years.
Front Range housing is more than 90% full
Almost all housing units along the Front Range are occupied, the census data shows.
In Denver, 92% of the city’s 344,980 housing units are occupied, and that percentage goes up in neighboring counties — Douglas and Jefferson counties’ housing is 96% occupied, Boulder’s is at 94% and Weld County’s is 95% full.
Across the state, Colorado’s housing sits at about 91% occupied with a total 2.5 million housing units available.
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