- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

More than 7 million Americans — nearly 3 percent of the U.S. population — have parents of more than one race, the Census Bureau says in its first full portrait of the nation’s multiracial population.

The two most common combinations are white with “some other race” (2.3 million people) and white with “American Native and Alaska Native” (1.2 million people), said the report, which is based on first-of-its-kind data collected in the 2000 census.

Almost a half-million people were a mixture of black and “some other race.”

Because Hispanics may be of any race, the bureau placed them in the “some other race” category. About 31 percent of all mixed-race persons said they had a Hispanic heritage.

The census findings have broad social implications, said Nancy McFall Jean, president of the Interracial Family Circle, a Washington group that represents multiracial families.

As more people reach out to each other across racial lines to form partnerships and families, she said, society will have to adapt. But already, she noted, Verizon commercials show multiracial families. “They are realizing there’s a huge market trend with the multicultural population.”

There are also implications for government bureaucracies and political policies that were built on the assumption that, with rare exceptions, Americans have parents of the same race.

For instance, civil rights groups and advocates for biracial families have argued over whether to allow “multiracial” designations on forms. Those in favor say people should be able to acknowledge all their diverse ancestry. Others say the political strength of minorities will be reduced if people are allowed to choose a new category.

Census Bureau analyst Nicholas A. Jones said that although the census has gathered data on race since 1790, the 2000 census was the first to allow people to describe themselves as more than one race. The new report is the first to analyze the characteristics, education and income of these 7.2 million people, he said.

Data show that the mixed-race population is youthful — more than 40 percent are 18 or younger.

Mixed-race persons 15 and older are less likely to be married compared with the overall U.S. population — 27 percent versus 37 percent, respectively. They are also more likely to be foreign-born than the U.S. population — 24 percent versus 11 percent, respectively.

The mixed-race population is less likely to finish high school, but more likely to go to college, than the general population. They are also more likely to be in service, sales, construction, production or transportation jobs.

The median family income of a mixed-race couple is $39,432, compared with $50,046 of all U.S. families. Mixed-race children are also more likely to live in poverty than the overall child population — nearly 20 percent, compared with nearly 17 percent, respectively.

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