HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — While the majority of Connecticut residents are white, new U.S. Census data released Thursday shows the state is becoming more diverse, with the number of Hispanic residents having grown by approximately 30% over the last decade.
The state’s Hispanic population increased by 144,206 people from 2010 to 2020, while the white population declined by 377,282. There were increases in the number of people of mixed race, Asian, Black, native American and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander decent in Connecticut as well.
Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause of Connecticut, said the numbers show the importance of getting racially diverse input into the state’s redistricting process, which will rely on the new Census data when it works to redraw congressional and state legislative district lines.
“We need processes that prioritize, I guess, hearing from diverse populations in a way that we haven’t done before, and so we need to really think about how we can make that happen,” she said. “This needs to be a priority because if people’s voices aren’t heard, then it’s not going to make the mapmaking process as inclusive as it needs to be.”
The eight members of the state’s Reapportionment Committee, all state legislators, met for the first time in April. They spoke of the challenge of reaching as many people as possible and holding public hearings in each of the state’s five congressional districts, given ongoing concerns about COVID-19.
Data released Thursday showed Connecticut’s white population dropped from 77.6% in 2010 to 66.4% in 2020, while the Hispanic or Latino population grew from 13.4% to 17.3%. The Black population grew from 10.1% to 10.8% and the Asian population grew from 3.8% to 4.8%. Those figures do not include people of mixed race.
Fairfield County is the most diverse of the state’s eight counties, with a white population of 61%. It’s followed closely by Hartford County, with a 61% white population, and New Haven County with 62.9%.
Statewide, Connecticut had a slight overall population gain of 31,847 residents, from about 3.57 million people in 2010 to 3.6 million in 2020. Much of the growth came from Fairfield County, which gained 40,490 people. There were also small increases in Hartford and New Haven counties, while the other five counties lost population over the past decade. Connecticut has had a relatively stagnant population for the past several decades.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who chaired the state’s 2020 Complete Count Committee, said in a statement that she was encouraged by the data, noting Connecticut had a 99.9% overall response rate to the Census.
“Today’s data shows the fruits of our labor,” she said. “By producing the most complete count possible, the 2020 census results will bring billions of dollars in federal resources to Connecticut for education, healthcare, transportation, and more.”