Census Data Shows How Thurston County Has Become More Diverse Over Last Decade

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Thurston County's population diversified between 2010 and 2020 as those who identify as Hispanic or as two or more races showed the most growth.

The U.S. Census Bureau released nationwide data in August as part of the 2020 Census, including race and ethnicity data for Thurston County and its cities. This data will inform how congressional and legislative districts will be redrawn and how federal funding may be apportioned.

Over the past 10 years, the Thurston County population has grown by 16.9%, or 42,529 people, to 294,793. With this growth, the county ranked as the fifth fastest growing county and the sixth largest county in Washington state.

Most of the county's population growth can be attributed to two groups: people who identify as Hispanic or Latino and those who identify as two or more races.

The Hispanic or Latino population, which can include people of multiple races, made up 7.1% of the county population in 2010 but by 2020 they made up 9.8%. This means the population grew by 63.2%, or 11,237, according to data analysis by The Olympian.

Meanwhile, the population of people who identify as two or more races, but not Hispanic, increased by 113.9% to 23,369, which is 7.9% of the 2020 population.

Though the county's white population increased by 8,966 people, or 4.5%, its percentage of the total population decreased from 78.9% in 2010 to 70.6% in 2020.

Each of the other races in Thurston County grew faster than the white population. Here's how it broke down:

* The Black, non-Hispanic population grew by 2,473 people, or 38.5%, over the last decade. By 2020, this population made up 3% of the total population, up from 2.5% in 2010.

* The Asian population grew by 4,058 people, or 31.7%, over the last decade. By 2020, this population made up 5.7% of the total population, up from 5.1% in 2010.

* The Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander population grew by 1,372 people, or 73.4%. By 2020, this population made up 1.1% of the total population, up from 0.7% in 2010.

* The American Indian and Alaska Native population grew by 612 people, or 20.3%, over the last decade. By 2020, this population made up a little over 1.2% of the population compared to a little under 1.2% in 2010.

* The population of people who identified as other race, non-Hispanic, grew by 1,365 people, or 327.3%, over the last decade. By 2020, this population made up 0.6% of the total population, up from 0.2% in 2010.

Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater

Not surprisingly, Thurston County's three biggest cities also diversified over the past decade, according to the census results.

Lacey added the most people since 2010. The data show the city grew by 26.3%, or 11,133 residents, bringing its total population to 53,526 — a few thousand shy of Olympia's total population, which increased by 9,127 people, or 19.6%, to 55,605, per the data.

Tumwater, the smallest of the three, added fewer people but its percentage growth was the greatest. The city's population increased by 7,979 people, or 45.9%, to 25,350.

Like Thurston County, each of these cities saw significant growth among people who identified as Hispanic or Latino or two or more races.

In Olympia, the Hispanic or Latino population grew by 2,140 people, or 73.3%. By 2020, this population made up 9.1% of the city's total population, compared to 6.3% in 2010.

Olympia's population of people who identify as two or more races increased by 2,424 people, or 126.6%, to 4,339.

The white, non-Hispanic population in Olympia only grew by 2,294 people, or 6.1%. As a result, its portion of the total population decreased from 80.3% to 71.3%, according to Olympian data analysis.

In Lacey, which already was the most diverse among the three cities, the Hispanic or Latino population grew by 74.1% to 6,764, or 12.6% of the total population.

Those who identify as two or more races in Lacey grew by 2,301 people, or 98%, to make up 8.7% of the total population.

Notably, the Asian population of Lacey grew by 1,407, or 42.3%. In 2010, this population made up 7.8% of the city's total population, but by 2020 it made up 8.8%.

Lacey's white population increased by 9.6%, or 2,833 people, bringing its total population to 32,322. In 2010, this population made up 69.6% of the city's population; in 2020, it made it up 60.4%.

In Tumwater, the Hispanic or Latino population grew by 1,134 people, or 106%. As a result, this population made up 8.7% of the city's total population in 2020, compared to 6.2% in 2010.

Meanwhile, Tumwater's population of people who identify as two or more races increased by 1,311 people, or 186.9%, to 2,024.

The white, non-Hispanic population in Tumwater saw more growth than the white populations in Olympia and Lacey. This population increased by 4,358 people, or 30.7%. Even with this growth, its percentage of the total population still decreased from 81.7% to 73.2%.

The Black, non-Hispanic population grew the fastest in Tumwater, increasing by 354 people, or 125.1%, to a total of 637 by 2020.

Tumwater also saw the highest percentage growth among its Asian population compared to the Olympia and Lacey. This population grew by 526 people, or 64.2%, to 1,345, yet it only accounts for 5.3% of the city's total population.

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