Census of 2000

By Jerilyn WatsonLast year, the United States government counted the population of the nation. This American census tells who we are and where we live.I'm Sarah Long.And I'm Shirley Griffith. The census of Two-Thousand is our report today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

The United States counts its population every ten years. The census of Two-Thousand reports that more than two-hundred-eighty-one-million people live in the United States. This means the population has gained almost thirty-three-million people since the census of Nineteen-Ninety.This is the most the United States has ever grown during a ten-year period.

The population count means far more than a list of numbers. The census strongly influences political and social life. The results decide the number of representatives from a state or local area in the United States Congress and state legislatures.

For example, the states of New York and Pennsylvania did not increase their population as much as other states did. So each state will lose two seats in the United States House of Representatives. The states of Florida, Texas, Georgia and Arizona gained more population.So each state will gain two seats in the House. Political observers say the states that will gain members in Congress are more likely to elect Republicans.The census also decides how much aid money the federal government gives to cities and states. And it provides racial and ethnic information needed to enforce civil rights laws.

The census shows that about seventy-five percent of the people in America are white. Census officials say this population is more than two-hundred-eleven-million people. The number of Americans identifying themselves as white grew less than seven percent in the last ten years. The number of people who said they were white mixed with other races increased by eight-point-six percent from ten years ago.The census reports that some minority groups are growing faster than the white population. For the first time in seventy years, the census says about one in ten Americans was born in another country. It also shows that minorities are making the largest American cities even larger.Big cities and the areas around them grew about fourteen percent during the Nineteen-Nineties. People also moved into less populated areas away from cities. These rural areas gained ten percent in population since the last census.

((MUSIC BRIDGE ))Several organizations have made independent studies of the census of Two-Thousand. Some experts say more African Americans and white people live near each other in major cities than in the past. But other experts say most people still live in areas with their own racial or ethnic groups. For example, they report that most Hispanics live near other Hispanics.

Hispanic people or their families came to the United States from countries where Spanish is spoken. They may be of any race. The Hispanic population grew more than any other minority group during the past ten years. The Hispanic population increased by about fifty-eight percent. Some experts say Hispanics who are in this country illegally may be partly responsible for this large growth.The census count says there now are slightly more Hispanics than African Americans in the nation. About thirty-five-million Hispanics live here. There are more than thirty-four-million-five-hundred-thousand African Americans. Each group represents slightly more than twelve percent of the population. But more than one-million African Americans told the census they also belong to at least one other race. These people were not included in the African-American count.

If they had been, census officials say the numbers of African Americans and Hispanics would be about equal.

The Asian population of the United States has increased almost as fast as the Hispanic population since the last census. The Asian population has reached about ten-million. They are more than three- percent of the population.

The American Indian and native Alaskan population grew to almost two-and-one-half million. The number of native Hawaiians and other Pacific island people reached about four-hundred thousand.The Two-Thousand census was the first in which Americans could say they belong to more than one race. People could identify themselves from among fourteen races.

About seven-million people identified themselves as belonging to more than one race. Two percent of American adults describe themselves as multiracial. More than four percent of Americans under age eighteen are multiracial. Officials say four times as many people today are having children with people of a different race.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))The census shows that the state of California has more people than any other state. Almost thirty-four-million people live in the West Coast state. California became the first big American state where white people are not the majority of the population.

Since Nineteen-Ninety, California's non-Hispanic white population has decreased to less than fifty percent. Asian and Hispanic minorities have grown quickly. About one-third of the people in California are Hispanic. About twelve percent are Asian. The African American population is about the same as ten years ago, about seven percent.

Some experts say the whole nation may be like California in the future.Census officials, however, say two-thirds of the people in America in the next census will be non-Hispanic whites.The census shows that many people are moving to warm areas. Southern and western states like California gained the most population.Middle western and northeastern states grew more slowly.

The state of Nevada grew fastest. Nevada's population has increased by sixty-six percent during the last ten years. A major Nevada city, Las Vegas, gained many Hispanic citizens.Another important change is that Texas now has the second largest number of people of any American state. New York State held that position in the last census.

All fifty states gained population. Only the District of Columbia-- Washington, D.C. -- lost population. Experts say many African Americans who lived in the city have moved to nearby suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.The census showed that America's three biggest cities grew even bigger.More than eight-million people now live in the biggest city, New York. Los Angeles, California is the second biggest city in the nation.Almost four-million people live there. Chicago, Illinois is the third-largest American city. It has almost three-million people. The population of Chicago grew for the first time since Nineteen-Fifty. Hispanics and Asians helped increase the populations of all these major cities.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Almost one-million workers performed the census of Two-Thousand.Millions of Americans completed census documents they received in the mail.Census Bureau workers visited the homes of people who did not return these census forms. The administration of President Bush says the count is the most correct in history.Census officials, however, say more than three-million people were not included in the count. They say most of these people are homeless. Or they do not own their homes. Or they are children.

Some cities have brought legal action asking for a re-count of their population. They say they have more people than were counted.They say new counts would give them more federal money and more representation in government.The United States first counted its population in Seventeen-Ninety.At that time, fewer than four-million people lived in the new country.The census of Two-Thousand shows almost three-hundred-million people.Some politicians and other Americans dispute some of the census results.But they can agree about some things. The census of Two-Thousand tells us what America and Americans are like at the start of the new century.And the census will be very important in planning for America's future.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Shirley Griffith.And I'm Sarah Long. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

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