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This dashboard dives into decennial census data to take a look at the racial/ethnic makeup of the population in Arkansas over the last 40 years. Data from all five census years from 1980-2020 are displayed by county and at the state level.

In this dashboard you can see the three included racial/ethnic groups at the same time while also being able to track changes over time. For quick reference, the Black/African American population is represented in blue, the White population in orange, and the Hispanic/Latino population in green.

In 1980, the White population of 1,890,322 was over 5 times the Black or African American population and made up 82.7% of the total state population. Most counties did not have a large population of any race other than White.  The counties in the Delta and the southern part of the state had the highest concentration of Black or African Americans. The Hispanic population was very small and only accounted for 0.8% of the population in 1980.

From 1980 to 1990 Arkansas saw an overall population increase of 2.8%. The racial composition of the state remained consistent.

In 2000, the racial composition began to shift. The Black or African American population was no longer concentrated only in the Delta also in Sebastian, Faulkner, and Garland Counties and made up 15.7% of the total population. The Hispanic/Latino population experienced growth from 1990 to 2000 and now accounted for 3.2% of the state’s total population. The counties in northwestern and western part of the state had the largest concentration of Hispanic population. The White population grew by 10.0% from 1990 to 2000, but made up less of the total population (80.0%) in 2000.

By 2010, the total population in Arkansas was 2,915,918, up 9.1% from 2000. The Hispanic/Latino population had grown to 6.4% of the total population and was more widespread into other counties in the central part of the state. Northwest Arkansas continued to have the highest concentration of Hispanic/Latino population. The highest concentration of White population remained in central Arkansas and the White population grew larger in the northwestern part of the state. Some of the Delta counties experienced population loss from 2000 to 2010, consequently the concentration of Black/African American population no longer encompassed all the counties along the Mississippi River.

From 2010 to 2020 the total population in Arkansas grew by 3.3% to 3,011,524. The racial composition of the state continued to grow more diverse. In 2020, the White population made up only 70.2% of the total population, down from 77.0% in 2010. Conversely the Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 8.5% in 2020, which is an increase from 6.4% in 2010. The Black/African American population remained pretty consistent with 15.1% of the population in 2020 compared to 15.4% in 2010. The population decline in the Delta continued this decade which can be seen in the counties adjacent to the Mississippi River when looking at the Black/African American map.

Over the past 40 years, the racial/ethnic makeup of the state has changed from a predominately White state with little diversity to one that has a larger minority population. The Hispanic/Latino population saw the largest increase in this time period, while the Black/African American population saw a big shift from the Delta and southern Arkansas to spread into the in central and western areas of the state.