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More than half of those who identified as black or African American did so as Jamaican, Haitian, or African American

African American was the most reported detailed response by those who identified their race as Black or African American in the 2020 Census, according to recently released data. Nigerian and Ethiopian were the most reported Sub-Saharan African groups, while Jamaican and Haitian were the largest Caribbean groups.

In the 2020 Census, 46,936,733 respondents identified as Black or African American alone or in combination, the third largest race group. For the first time in decennial census history, there was a Black or African American write-in area with detailed examples for people to report detailed responses. This was among the improvements made to the 2020 Census race and Hispanic origin question designs, data processing and coding procedures.

More than half of the Black alone population (53.7%) and the Black alone or in combination population (52.3%) reported being African American.

As a result, data are available from the 2020 Census for three regional Black or African American groups (Sub-Saharan African, Caribbean and Other Black or African American) and 62 detailed Black or African American groups such as African American, Eritrean and Grenadian.

Detailed responses from the race question are tabulated in two ways: race alone and race alone or in any combination.

The Black or African American alone population includes respondents who reported only one response, such as Zimbabwean, to the race question. The Black or African American alone or in any combination population includes those who reported one or more responses, such as Zimbabwean, or Zimbabwean and St. Lucian, or Zimbabwean and White.

Understanding the composition of the race alone and the race alone or in any combination populations is important as our country’s demographics change and the nation becomes much more multiracial.

Throughout this article, we will refer to the Black or African American population as the Black population. The term African American throughout this article refers to people who reported their detailed response as African American.

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Nearly two-thirds of the Black population provided a detailed response to the race question. Those who did not provide a detailed response are included in the “Other Black or African American” category.

More than half of the Black alone population (53.7%) and the Black alone or in combination population (52.3%) reported being African American (Figure 1).

The Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean regional groups combined made up over 10% of the Black alone and Black alone or in combination populations in the United States.

Caribbean Oldest Among Regional Groups

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Of the regional groups, the share of the youth population (under 18 years) was largest among the Sub-Saharan African alone (26.3%) and the African American alone or in any combination (28.3%) populations (Figure 2).

The Caribbean alone and Caribbean alone or in any combination populations were the oldest Black regional group; 14.4% and 12.9% of their populations were age 65 and over, respectively.

Largest Groups Within Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean Populations

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The largest Sub-Saharan African groups in 2020 were Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somali and Ghanaian. The top four groups made up about half of the Sub-Saharan African alone (50.5%) and Sub-Saharan African alone or in any combination (46.9%) populations. Each group was less than 2% of the total Black alone or in combination population (Table 1).

Four Caribbean groups (Jamaican, Haitian, Trinidadian and Tobagonian and West Indian) made up the majority of the Caribbean alone (90.1%) and Caribbean alone or in any combination (91.5%) populations. Together, Jamaican and Haitian comprised 80.5% of the nation’s Caribbean alone population. Jamaican and Haitian each made up 2.2% of the Black alone or in combination population.

Detailed Black Population by State

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The three states (Texas, Georgia and Florida) with the nation’s largest African American populations had nearly equal shares of that population (Table 2).  

Nearly 20% of the Sub-Saharan African population lived in Texas and New York. Texas was home to the largest Sub-Saharan African alone population (11.4%) and over 20% of the Nigerian alone population resided there in 2020. Maryland had the next-largest Nigerian alone population (10.7%). Virginia (11.1%) and Maryland (11.0%) had the nation’s largest Ethiopian alone populations.

Caribbean groups were geographically concentrated: over half of the Caribbean alone (60%) and the Caribbean alone or in any combination (56.1%) populations lived in Florida and New York. Nearly half (46.4%) of the Haitian alone population was concentrated in Florida.

Detailed Black Population by County

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In 87% of counties, the largest detailed Black alone or in any combination group was African American, and these counties were spread throughout the country (Figure 3). The largest number of people reporting their detailed identity as African American (773,963) was in Cook County, Illinois, home to Chicago.

Where other groups were the largest:

  • Somali was the largest detailed Black group in 18 counties and eight were in Minnesota.
  • South African was the largest group in six counties, two in North Dakota, and one each in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas.
  • Haitian was the largest group in five counties — two in Florida (Collier and Monroe) and one each in Texas (Frio), New York (Rockland), and Indiana (Daviess), respectively.
  • Jamaican was the largest group in Barnstable and Nantucket Counties, Massachusetts and Cook County, Minnesota.
  • Congolese was the largest group in two Missouri counties: Adair and Sullivan.
  • Ethiopian was the largest group in Nobles County, Minnesota, and Nance County, Nebraska.
  • Cameroonian (Willacy County, Texas), Antiguan and Barbudan (Wheatland County, Montana) and Equatorial Guinean (Jeff Davis County, Texas) were each the largest in one county.
  • African American and South African were tied as the largest groups in North Dakota’s Dickey County.

Detailed Sub-Saharan African Groups by County

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Nigerian was the largest Sub-Saharan African alone or in any combination detailed group in almost 700 counties (Figure 4). Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, had the largest Nigerian population (34,937) of any county in the nation.

Where other Sub-Saharan African alone or in any combination groups were the largest:

  • South African was the largest detailed Sub-Saharan African group in 70 counties, including 10 in Florida and nine in North Carolina. Los Angeles County, California had the nation’s largest South African population (3,634).
  • Somali was the largest group in 66 counties, including 21 in Minnesota. Hennepin County, which contains Minneapolis, had the largest Somali population (38,588).
  • The Ethiopian population was the largest in 62 counties, including Washington, D.C, and many of its surrounding counties, such as Montgomery County, Maryland, which had the largest Ethiopian population (23,402) in the country.
  • The Congolese population was the largest group in 46 counties, mostly in the Midwest. Tarrant County, Texas (home to Fort Worth), had the largest Congolese population (4,823).
  • Ghanaian was the largest group in 20 counties. Bronx County, New York, had the largest Ghanaian population (15,631).
  • Kenyan was the largest group in 17 counties; King County, Washington, where Seattle is located, had the largest Kenyan population (4,243).
  • In 64 counties, Sub-Saharan African groups other than Nigerian, South African, Somali, Ethiopian, Congolese, Ghanaian or Kenyan were the largest. Sudanese was the largest in 15 counties. Cameroonian and Liberian were the largest group in 14 counties each. Eritrean was the largest group in six counties. South Sudanese was the largest group in three counties. Central African, Equatorial Guinean, Tanzanian and Togolese were the largest groups in two counties each and Ivorian, Rwandan, Senegalese and Zambian were each largest in one county.
  • In five counties, there were two groups that tied as the largest Sub-Saharan African group. In all five counties, Nigerian was one of the two largest.

Detailed Caribbean Population by County

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Jamaican was the largest Caribbean alone or in any combination group in over 900 counties in 2020 (Figure 5).

In many counties, Jamaican was the only detailed Caribbean group large enough to have data tabulated in the Detailed DHC-A.

Where other Caribbean groups were the largest:

  • Haitian was the largest detailed Caribbean group in 179 counties, concentrated in the eastern half of the nation. Broward County, Florida, home to Fort Lauderdale, had the largest Jamaican (96,527) and Haitian (117,251) populations.
  • Trinidadian and Tobagonian was the largest group in seven counties, including two in Texas: Chambers County (just east of Houston) and San Patricio County. The largest Trinidadian and Tobagonian population (32,613) lived in Kings County (Brooklyn), New York.
  • The U.S. Virgin Islander group was the largest in six counties, including four (Barron, Burnett, Polk and Sawyer) in northern Wisconsin. The largest U.S. Virgin Islander population (1,062) was in Orange County, Florida, home to Orlando.
  • Anguillan, Bahamian, Antiguan and Barbudan, Montserratian and Dominica Islander were the largest Caribbean groups in one county each.
  • In two counties, Grant County, Indiana and Isabella County, Michigan, Haitian and Jamaican were tied as the largest Caribbean groups.

Data Visualization

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Working Paper

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Related Information

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The Technical Documentation [PDF 10.6 MB] provides more information on data quality and how the Census Bureau collects, codes and tabulates statistics on race and Hispanic or Latino origin.

Information on the application of differential privacy and data accuracy for the 2020 Census at various levels of geography are available on the 2020 Census Data Products: Disclosure Avoidance Modernization webpage.

All the authors are in the Census Bureau’s Population Division:

Alli Coritz is a demographic statistician in the Racial Statistics Branch.

Ricardo Henrique Lowe, Jr. was a demographic statistician in the Ethnicity and Ancestry Branch.

Jessica E. Peña is a senior researcher in the Race/Ethnicity Research & Outreach Area.

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