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Fayette County has experienced multiracial population growth that parallels the increasing racial diversity of America as a whole, according to U.S. Census data released Sept. 16.

The white, non-Hispanic population still remains the largest ethnic group in Fayette County as a proportion of the county’s total population. However, the percentage of people who identify as solely white has decreased in both Fayette County and the U.S. from 2010 to 2020, from 75.7 percent to 68.3 percent and from 72.4 percent to 61.6 percent, respectively.

According to these demographics, Fayette County has become more diverse. The county’s diversity index, or the probability that two people chosen at random will be from two different racial or ethnic groups, increased from 44 percent to 52 percent from 2010 to 2020. The diversity index of America as a whole has also increased from 54.9 percent to 61.1 percent.

The 2020 census gathered data about participants’ races using two separate questions. One question asked if a person was of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, and another asked participants to identify themselves from a list of races or write in some other race. Participants could choose one or more options from a list of 15 groups, including a write-in category labeled “some other race.” 

This new two question system allows Americans to accurately identify their race. Before this census, multiracial people were allowed to choose only one of the races with which they identified, and as a result, these answers weren’t a correct depiction of the country’s demographics.

The Bureau also increased the number of characters provided for people to write in a specific Hispanic origin. The Bureau said it increased the character limit from 30 to 200, “to reflect more fully and accurately the complex details of how people identify their race and ethnicity.”

In 2020, 7.1 percent of Fayette County’s population identified as two or more races, nearly three times the 2.5 percent of Fayette County’s population that marked two or more races on the 2010 census. A similar increase — from 2.9 percent to 10.2 percent — occurred in the United States as a whole.

The Census Bureau reported that these increases in diversity were both a product of actual demographic changes and changes to the way the census records race. After testing alternative questions in 2015, the Census Bureau added write-in response areas for the “White” and “Black or African American” options of its race question.