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As the nation becomes more diverse, South Carolina remains the same

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South Carolina's 65-plus population has soared this decade and is on track to hit 1 million residents by the end of this year. Unlike most of the nation, South Carolina's population has not become significantly more racially and ethnically diverse. File/Dreamstime/Provided

New census estimates Thursday show the United States' population growing older and becoming more diverse, but in South Carolina, only one of those things is true.

South Carolina's population has not reflected the growing racial and ethnic diversity seen elsewhere in the United States.

Like the nation, South Carolina's population is rapidly aging as the Baby Boom generation continues to transition into retirement, raising the percentage of residents who are 65 or older significantly. 

"As the nation has continued to gray, it has also grown more racially and ethnically diverse," said the Census Bureau.

South Carolina's population has continued to gray, but is about as white today as it was in 2010.

Among all the states, the racial makeup of the population has changed the least in South Carolina.

That's not due to a lack of change. The state's population has roughly doubled since 1970.

But while the majority of the nation's population growth has come from Asian immigration and the natural increase (when births exceed deaths) of the Hispanic population, the majority of South Carolina's population growth has come from non-Hispanic Black and white people relocating to the state.

That's been driving an increase primarily in the state's non-Hispanic white population, which has increased more than 10 percent since 2010 in South Carolina.

When the 2010 Census was conducted, South Carolina's population was 64.2 percent non-Hispanic white. In July 2019, according to the new estimates, South Carolina's population was 63.7 percent non-Hispanic white. 

And, as in prior years, the majority of South Carolina's remaining non-Hispanic population was Black — 26.4 percent last summer, 27.7 percent in 2010. 

There were more South Carolina residents of every race and ethnic group in 2019, compared to 2010, but non-Hispanic white and Black residents account for more than 90 percent of South Carolina's population, compared to less than 73 percent of the U.S. population.

Nationally, the non-Hispanic white population was slightly smaller in mid-2019 than in 2010, but rounded off it was 197.3 million both years. Meanwhile, the population of all other racial groups increased, as did the population of Hispanic residents, who can be of any race.

For the first time in the U.S., nonwhites and Hispanics were a majority of people under age 16, a demographic shift that will grow over the coming decades, according to the census estimates.

"We are browning from bottom up in our age structure," said William Frey, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. "This is going to be a diversified century for the United States, and it's beginning with this youngest generation."

Among racial and ethnic groups, non-Hispanic whites have the highest median age in the nation, and more deaths than births each year.

Over the past decade, Asians had the largest population growth rate of any demographic group, increasing by 29 percent. Most of that growth was driven by international migration.

The Hispanic population grew by 20 percent since 2010, with almost three-quarters of that growth coming not from immigration, but from the natural increase when births exceed deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.

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