July 7, 2018

What Population Data Say About Race and Ethnicity in America

In 2016, 61% of the U.S. population identified as white, 18% as Hispanic or Latino, 12% as black or African American and 5% as Asian. About 2% of the U.S. population identified as multiracial. Less than 1% of residents identified as either American Indian and Native Alaskan or as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.

About the U.S. Census Bureau

The Census Bureau — our nation’s primary source of population data — has changed how it measures race and ethnicity over time. Today, the bureau tracks five racial categories: 1) white; 2) black or African-American; 3) American Indian or Alaska Native; 4) Asian; and 5) Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Since the 2000 Census, respondents have been able to identify as more than one race. Separately, the bureau also tracks how many people identify as Hispanic, which is a designation that can apply to individuals of any racial category.