Maine remained the whitest state in the U.S. in 2020, but the nonwhite population grew by 75 percent and every county is more diverse than it was 10 years ago, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The trend is in line with the headline out of last year’s census: The nation is diversifying with the white population now at its smallest share on record. Maine has long been known as being the whitest and oldest by median age with New Hampshire and Vermont also in the bottom five.
But Maine’s racial composition has changed in the last decade, despite meager 2.6 percent population growth that was centered in Cumberland and York counties. White residents made up 90.2 percent of the population last year, down from 94.4 percent in 2010.
While Androscoggin and Cumberland counties remained the most diverse at more than 13 percent of their populations being non-white and non-Hispanic, every county made gains by that measure. They were led by Franklin County, where non-white, non-Hispanic residents increased by 123 percent. Lincoln remains the whitest county in the state.
The largest gains in Maine’s racial composition were those who identified as “two or more” races, which increased from 1.3 to 3.9 percent. The population of people who identify as solely Black increased by 63 percent but remained at just under 2 percent of the state’s population. People who identify as Hispanic or Latino increased by 53 percent to 2 percent.
The state’s diversity index — a Census Bureau measurement indicating the likelihood that two people picked at random will share the same racial or ethnic characteristics — increased from 10.8 percent to 18.5 percent. Those odds are still less than one-third of the national average.
Maine’s demographic profile has long been seen as the major economic hurdle facing the state. State Economist Amanda Rector noted last year that Maine was “more diverse than ever” but that it had only “improved slightly from centuries past.” Its aging population could create workforce shortages as the demand for health services increases, she noted.