Five Census Findings You May Have Missed

California ranks as the second-most diverse state in the nation as its white population shrinks. Plus, San Francisco is the country’s most childless big city.,


Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story


New citizens were sworn in during a ceremony in Los Angeles in January 2020.Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

By now, you have probably heard that California, while still the country’s most populous state by far, isn’t growing as quickly as the rest of the nation. The reversal of a decades-long boom, which will strip California of a congressional seat for the first time, was initially documented in a preview of census data this spring.

But when the U.S. Census Bureau fully released the data from its 2020 survey last week, it revealed a more complicated, nuanced picture of how California — and the 39.5 million of us who call the state home — has changed over the past decade.

Here are five major takeaways:

White people are no longer the biggest group

In 2020, more than 39 percent of Californians identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, compared with the approximately 35 percent who reported they were white and not Hispanic, my colleague Jill Cowan reported.

The shift makes California one of only five states or territories where white people do not make up the largest group. The others are Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Asians are among the fastest-growing ethnic groups

The percentage of Californians who identify as Asian or part-Asian grew by more than 27 percent between 2010 and 2020, one of the biggest increases among ethnic groups.

By comparison, the proportion of Californians who identified as Black or part-Black increased by 5 percent.

California has long been home to a higher share of Asian residents than the rest of the nation. In 2020, approximately 18 percent of Californians identified as Asian or part-Asian, compared with 7 percent nationwide.

Most stunning, four of the top five counties nationwide with the highest proportion of Asian residents are in California: Santa Clara, San Francisco, Alameda and San Mateo.


Chinatown in San Francisco in 2019.Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

The state didn’t grow equally

California grew by 2.3 million residents over the past decade — an increase of about 6 percent — but that rise wasn’t distributed evenly across the state.

Los Angeles County, which remains the most populous with more than 10 million residents, experienced a 2 percent increase, while many other rural counties swelled by more than 10 percent.

Here are some of the winners and losers, in terms of population changes:

Counties with the biggest percentage growth in population: Trinity (17 percent increase), San Benito, Placer, San Joaquin, Yuba

Counties with the biggest numerical increase in population: Riverside (228,544 more people), San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, Alameda

Counties with the biggest percentage drop in population: Modoc (10 percent decrease), Mono, Lassen, Mariposa, Butte

Counties with the biggest numerical drop in population: Butte (8,368 fewer people), Lassen, Mariposa, Mono, Modoc

San Francisco is the most childless city in the U.S.

Among the 100 most populous cities in the nation, San Francisco has the smallest share of residents under 18, as first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.

Thirteen percent of San Francisco’s population is under 18, compared with 22 percent in the state overall and nationwide. The longstanding trend in San Francisco is often attributed to the region’s extremely high cost of living, the newspaper reports.

California is the second-most diverse state in the nation

There’s a roughly 70 percent chance that two California residents chosen at random would be from different ethnic or racial backgrounds, according to census data. When it comes to this metric, known as the diversity index, California ranks second nationwide after Hawaii.

Both Solano and Alameda Counties rank in the nation’s 10 most diverse counties. Explore how California’s counties stack up.


Lake Mead, top left, and Boulder City, Nev., in July. The last time the lake was anywhere near full was two decades ago.Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The rest of the news


Colorado River shortage: For the first time, the federal government declared a water shortage at Lake Mead, a main reservoir for the Colorado River. California is spared immediate cuts, but the declaration limits the water supply for Nevada and Arizona, the other states in the river’s lower basin.

Owens pupfish: A native California fish species that has been teetering on the edge of extinction for the past 50 years has been given a possible new home.

Business leaders: Allan Zaremberg, the California Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive, has announced that he will retire at the end of the year, according to The Sacramento Bee.


Covid testing in schools: The Los Angeles Unified School District plans weekly coronavirus testing of every student, teacher and staff member. The Los Angeles Times details the effort.

Crackdown on homeless camps: Joe Buscaino, a Los Angeles city councilman who is running for mayor, is pushing his colleagues to prohibit homeless encampments from going up within 500 feet of public schools, The Los Angeles Times reports.


Fresno building demolitions: Many Fresnans are wondering why buildings keep getting torn down in their neighborhoods. The Sacramento Bee reports on what might be contributing to the trend.

Squaw Valley: Officials have lifted evacuation orders in Squaw Valley, The Fresno Bee reports. The fire known as the MarLar Incident had burned 37 acres and been 50 percent contained as of Monday afternoon.

Air quality regulation: A proposed amendment to emissions regulations could require many boats to upgrade to cleaner engines, according to The Sacramento Bee. Sportfishing operators in San Luis Obispo County say the requirement will put them out of business.


PG&E shutdowns: Pacific Gas and Electric has warned it might shut off power on Tuesday night to 39,000 homes and businesses in 16 counties stretching from Mendocino to Yolo, reports The Sacramento Bee.

Santa Clara sheriff: Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, is calling for the removal of Sheriff Laurie Smith of Santa Clara County after reports of serious jail-abuse cases and corruption scandals, The Mercury News reports.

Back to school: More than 50,000 San Francisco students returned to school on Monday amid a coronavirus surge fueled by the Delta variant. The San Francisco Chronicle spoke to students about their excitement and their anxieties.

Testing site: San Francisco will reopen a mass coronavirus testing site on Wednesday, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The South of Market test site will be able to administer 500 tests per day.

Rising tides: The San Francisco Bay is projected to rise as much as two feet by 2070, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. To protect the city, some officials have suggested damming the Golden Gate.

Rent application increases: A new report shows a 105 percent increase in rent applications for San Francisco, according to The San Francisco Chronicle — the second-largest increase in the nation.


Credit…Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times

What we’re eating

Tejal Rao, California restaurant critic for The Times, has started a newsletter dedicated to the delights of vegetarian cooking. The kale-sauce pasta featured in the first edition is scrumptious.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s California travel tip comes from John Le Pouvoir, a reader who lives in Pollock Pines. John writes:

In this era of climate change, here’s a ‘see it before it is gone’ idea. Jot Dean Ice Cave. Way up north, in the Medicine Lake Highlands Volcanic Area.

Tell us about the best spots to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Tell us

Whether you’re a parent, teacher or student, I’d love to hear from you about the first day of school.

Please send me a few sentences about your (or your child’s) return to the classroom, including your name, school, age and grade, if appropriate. Your response may be published in an upcoming edition of the newsletter.

Joy, anger, fear, boredom — I want to hear it all. Email me at

And before you go, some good news

A new skating rink in East Oakland is providing opportunities for fun while rejuvenating the neighborhood, reports the news site The Oaklandside.

On a recent Sunday at the rink, where songs by Beyonce and E-40 boomed, “everyone present appeared to be feeling the vibes.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Ethnic group that includes Olympic gold medal winner Suni Lee (5 letters).

Miles McKinley and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

Leave a Reply