It’s not clear that more Americans in 2010 were multiracial. But what is clear is that more Americans were willing to identify themselves that way.
One of the key findings of the 2010 U.S. Census was the growth of the number of people who indicated they were a combination of multiple races as compared to 2000. Because the Census itself depends on self-identification for racial and ethnic background, a jump the magnitude of the 2010 census is mostly indicative of the number of people who are willing to say they are multiracial.
The population of people who were “White in combination” grew nearly 37 percent from 2000 to 2010, accounting for 7.5 million people or 2.4 percent of the overall population. The greatest growth in this area occurred for people who said they were a combination of White and Black/African American—133 percent more people identified themselves this way in 2010 than had in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of people who said they were White and Asian increased about 87 percent.
Among the Black population, 3.1 million people reported they were Black in combination with one ore more other races, an increase of 75 percent from 2000 to 2010. Again, the largest segment was Black-White combination, while the number of people who indicated they were Black and Asian rose close to 74 percent.
Many demographers have noted that the high rate of growth of the Hispanic population in the 2010 census also spurred the multiracial growth. Since the Hispanic designation is an ethnicity—not a race—Hispanics may have been more likely to identify across racial designations. Also, the one multiracial designation that dipped between 2000 and 2010 was the White or Black in combination with “some other race,” which is a category some Hispanics used prior to 2010.
For example, 32 percent of people who said they were White in combination in 2010 also identified themselves as Hispanic. Meanwhile, the number of people who were African American in combination and indicated they were Hispanic or Latino doubled between 2000 and 2010. That compared to a 70 percent increase for those who were African American in combination and non-Hispanic.