Maryland’s Black population has held steady over the past decade, but its shrinking white population is no longer the majority — reflecting the nationwide trend, according to data from the 2020 census released Thursday.
The once-a-decade count by the U.S. Census Bureau showed the state population increased last year by 7% from the previous census to 6.1 million, up from 5.7 million in 2010.
The population of white residents decreased from 55% to 47%.
During that same time frame, the Asian population increased from 5% to 7% and Latino residents from 8% to 12%.
The Black population in Maryland remained unchanged at 29%, which ranks fifth in the nation behind Georgia (31%), Louisiana (31.4%), Mississippi (36.6) and the District of Columbia (41.4%).
The white population nationwide decreased by 8.6%, which advocates say better reflects of America’s diversity.
“America is more diverse than ever and that diversity is a strength, not a weakness,” Yvette Roubideaux, vice president of research for the National Congress of American Indians, said during a virtual press conference Thursday. “We are excited to see that the data confirms what we already see in our communities, our schools, workplaces and with friends and families.”
Census data helps determine how to distribute an estimated $1.5 trillion in federal dollars every 10 years toward Medicaid, schools, housing and even determining the state’s representation in Congress.
Maryland’s congressional districts remain the same at eight, but a Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission plans to begin public hearings this month to review congressional and legislative maps.
The majority-Black jurisdiction of Prince George’s County had the fourth-highest population increase in the state, going up by 12% from 863,420 to 967,201 in a 10-year period. A three-member redistricting commission in the county will hold another session Monday.
Baltimore City, the state’s other majority-Black jurisdiction, experienced a population decrease of nearly 6%, or slightly more than 35,000 residents.
Although the data shows a diverse view of the country, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said the process historically has made attempts to split communities of color and pack them into a single voting district.
One example, he said, is the counting of those in jail and prison. States must use an inmate’s last known address, not where that individual is incarcerated at the time of the survey.
“The news that the nation’s white population is shrinking while the Black and brown populations continue to grow is likely to provoke the anti-democratic, racially anxious contingent among state legislatures charged with drawing the new district lines,” Morial said in a statement. “The National Urban League has long embraced the vision of a multicultural, pluralistic democracy and we call on every state legislator to approach redistricting with that same vision.”
To view the census data, go to www.census.gov.