Maine Becomes More Diverse But Still Whitest State In Nation

The 2020 census shows that Maine remains the whitest state in the nation but is becoming more diverse.

Census data released Thursday showed that the state’s population of 1,362,359 remains overwhelming white. But the numbers decreased slightly from 95.2.% of the population to 90.8% over the past decade. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire represent three of the four whitest states in the latest data.

The state’s Hispanic population grew slightly from 1.3% to 2% of the population. The Black population increased from 1.2% to 1.9%, a 64 percent jump which was only behind North Dakota and South Dakota in terms of percentage increases.

The uptick in nonwhite populations mirrors a nationwide trend showing the country as a whole becoming more diverse.

The release of the redistricting data culled from the 2020 census is coming more than four months later than expected due to delays caused by the pandemic.

The redistricting numbers states use for redrawing congressional and legislative districts show where white, Asian, Black and Hispanic communities grew over the past decade. It also shows which areas have gotten older or younger and the number of people living in dorms, prisons and nursing homes. The data covers geographies as small as neighborhoods and as large as states. An earlier set of data released in April provided state population counts and showed the U.S. had 331 million residents last year, a 7.4% increase from 2010.

Overall, Maine’s population grew more slowly over the past decade, increasing about 2.6%, or 33,998 people, from 2010. That wasn't enough to warrant a change to the state’s congressional makeup, and Maine will continue sending two U.S. representatives to Congress.

The latest data shows populations trends similar to the 2010 census, with cities in the southern part of the state gaining residents. Rural regions in the eastern and northern part of the state saw declines.

Cumberland County, the state's largest, saw a population increase of 7.6% followed closely by its southern neighbors of York and Androscoggin which saw increases of 7.5% and 3.2% respectively. In contrast, Aroostook County, which borders Canada, saw its population decline by 6.6%. The neighboring county of Washington County fell 5.4% while Piscataquis County saw a decline of 4.2%.

The state's population, long among the oldest in the country, also continued that trend. It has the third highest percentage of adults over 18, behind the District of Columbia and Vermont. Maine's population 18 and over increased 5.3% over the past decade while those under 18 fell by 8.1%.