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Census says county is more diverse

August 15, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County still is predominantly white, but its minority communities are growing much faster than the population as a whole, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released last week.

According to the new estimates, Washington County's population as of July 1, 2006, was 143,748. Of those, 126,359 were white, 13,388 were black, 1,918 were Asian, 283 were American Indian and 65 were Native Hawaiian. The county's population included 1,735 people of two or more races.

The Census Bureau estimates also provided data on the county's Hispanic population, which includes people from all racial groups. The Census Bureau defines Hispanic as an ethnicity, not a race. In 2006, 2,976 Hispanic people lived in Washington County.

The county's total population, which includes inmates at the county's three prisons, grew by 1.5 percent in 2006, from 141,563 to 143,748.

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The white population grew by less than 1 percent between 2005 and 2006, compared to 6.3 percent growth for the black population and 11.5 percent for the Asian population.

The Hispanic population in Washington County grew by 17.7 percent, according to the estimates.

Washington County's minority communities make up 12 percent of the total population, but accounted for 46 percent of the county's population growth between 2005 and 2006.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the data did not surprise him.

"I think it's to be expected," he said. "Any time you become more urbanized like we are, you're going to see broader diversity in race."

County Administrator Gregory Murray said minority growth has not created a need for increased services, but that the county is aware that things such as language classes might be needed in the future.

The Census Bureau report, which included population data from across the country, stated that nearly one in 10 of the 3,141 counties in the United States now are minority-majority.

The report states that the number of minorities in the country exceeded 100 million in 2006 - roughly one third of the population. Minorities are expected to account for half of the U.S. population by 2050, according to Census Bureau projections.

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