News & Politics

3 Big Things the New Census Revealed About Our Area

DC's Black population has shrunk significantly

Image by SiberianArt via iStock

The US Census Bureau released the 2020 Census data on August 12, offering a fresh picture of the country’s changing population—and also of our area. Data from the states (yes, for census purposes DC is considered a state) provides some interesting insights into shifting demographics in the DC area. Here are a few of the biggest takeaways:

DC continues to lose Black residents

Image via iStock.
Image via iStock.

Only 40.9 percent of DC residents now identify as Black—an almost 10-point decrease from last census’ data. In 2010, DC’s population was 50 percent Black and 34.8 white, while 20 years ago almost 60 percent of the city was Black. The census found that Washington is now 38 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Asian.

Maryland is the most diverse state on the East Coast

Photograph via Flickr user Austin Kirk.
Photograph via Flickr user Austin Kirk.

The census utilizes a Diversity Index that calculates the likelihood that “two people chosen at random will be of different race and ethnicity groups.” Maryland ranks fourth in the country after Hawaii, California, and Nevada, and is also highest on the list out of all the East Coast states. DC comes in at No. 5, trailing Maryland  by just 0.1 of a percentage point.

Maryland is also one of two states that shifted to be a majority-minority area over the past ten years. (Nevada is the other.) Only 48.7 percent of the state’s population identifies as white, a 10.5 point decrease from 2010. According to the 2020 data, Howard County and Montgomery County rank highest on the state’s Diversity Index.

Northern Virginia had a big population boom

Photograph by Oleksii Liskonih, via iStock.
Photograph by Oleksii Liskonih, via iStock.

Virginia experienced a 7.9 point population increase since the last census, exceeding the national average of 7.4 percent. The jurisdiction with the biggest growth in the state? Loudoun County, which swelled by 34.8 percent to become the fourth most populous district in the Commonwealth.

Other big population leaps in Northern Virginia include Prince William County (a 20-point increase), Arlington County (a 14.9 point increase), and Alexandria (a 13.9 point increase). By comparison, Fairfax—the state’s most populous county—grew by a mere 6.3 points.


Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.