Colorado Government

Boulder Isn't the Whitest Place in Colorado and Other Census Surprises

Maybe those jokes about the lack of diversity at the University of Colorado Boulder will finally stop — but probably not.
Maybe those jokes about the lack of diversity at the University of Colorado Boulder will finally stop — but probably not. YouTube file photo
For years, jokes have been made about supposedly lily-white Boulder. But Boulder is hardly the whitest place in Colorado. More than half the counties in the state are whiter.

This revelation is tucked inside the first rush of data about Colorado in the 2020 U.S. Census, a national head count held every ten years that's used to determine congressional districts and much more — and it's not the only surprise. The numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau also highlight the spectacular growth that's been experienced across much, but not all, of the state during the past decade. But the details about racial demographics are perhaps the grabbiest.

Note, for example, that in Mineral County, only 76 people (out of a total population of just 789) aren't white. The number is modest enough that all of Mineral County's diverse residents could attend a house party simultaneously...if the property had a decent-sized backyard.

Overall, 70.7 percent of Coloradans — or 4,082,927 of the 5,573,714 individuals who lived here as of April 1, 2020 — are labeled "white alone." The next largest slice of the pie falls under the category "two or more races," followed by "some other race alone." In addition, there are separate categories for "Black or African American alone," "American Indian and Alaska Native alone," "Asian alone" and "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone."

Here's a breakdown of the percentages for Colorado as a whole, as highlighted in the section of the bureau report on race and ethnicity in the United States.
White alone: 70.7 percent (4,082,927 people)
Black or African American alone: 4.1 percent (234,828)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone: 1.3 percent (74,129)
Asian alone: 3.5 percent (199,827)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.2 percent (10,287)
Some Other Race alone: 8.0 percent (464,046)
Two or more Races: 12.3 percent (707,670)
The bureau has a separate measure that compares "Hispanic or Latino" Coloradans to those who are "Not Hispanic or Latino." Colorado is currently pegged at 21.9 percent Hispanic or Latino.

The whiteness of Colorado is underscored by county-specific stats. The state has 64 counties, and precisely half of them, 32, rate as more than 80 percent "white alone." In descending order: Mineral (91.2 percent), Custer (91.0 percent), Ouray (90.2 percent), Hinsdale (89.6 percent), Kiowa (89.2 percent), Clear Creek (88.6 percent), Park (88.1 percent), Cheyenne (87.8 percent), Washington (87.8 percent), Grand (87.6 percent), Elbert (87.5 percent), Routt (87.5 percent), Gilpin (87.4 percent), Rio Blanco (87.3 percent), Teller (87.3 percent), Dolores (86.9 percent), Jackson (86.9 percent), Baca (86.8 percent), Gunnison (86.6 percent), San Juan (86.0 percent), Sedgwick (85.8 percent), San Miguel (85.8 percent), Chaffee (85.7 percent), Pitkin (85.2 percent), Delta (83.7 percent), Douglas (82.4 percent), Mesa (82.2 percent), Moffatt (81.8 percent), Fremont (81.7 percent), Douglas (80.7 percent), Archuleta (80.5 percent) and Logan (80.2 percent).

Of the two other counties that are more than 90 percent white, Custer County is home to 425 non-Caucasian residents (out of a population of 4,279), while Ouray has 478 non-whites among 4,396 people.

More fascinating factoids about Colorado can be found in the bureau's 2020 population and housing data. The most populous county in Colorado is El Paso, anchored by Colorado Springs, which earned bragging rights over Denver County by nearly 15,000 people; El Paso topped out at 730,395, Denver finished at 715,522. But when it comes to population density (the average number of people per square mile of land area), El Paso residents have a lot more space — 343.5 people per square mile, as compared to 4,674.3 in Denver.

The least diverse counties in Colorado's ten most populous are Larimer and Douglas, both of which exceeded 80 percent in whiteness. Even Jefferson County is whiter (79.0 percent) than Boulder (77.4 percent). The most diverse counties in the top ten are Arapahoe (60.5 percent white alone) and Adams (55.8 percent white alone).

All ten of the Colorado counties with the most residents are on the eastern side of the Continental Divide; Mesa, on the Western Slope, landed in the eleventh spot, with a population of 155,703. Twenty-seven counties have fewer than 10,000 residents, starting with Yuma, at 9,988, and three have fewer than 1,000 — Mineral, as well as Hinsdale (788) and San Juan (705).

Overall, Colorado's population grew by an incredible 14.8 percent from 2010 to 2020, with many of the ten largest counties leading the way; Denver swelled by 19.2 percent. But many rural counties have lost population over that span, particularly in southeastern Colorado: Baca (-7.4 percent), Las Animas (-6.1 percent), Prowers (-4.4 percent), Bent (-13.1 percent) and Cheyenne (-4.8 percent). In contrast, some smaller counties in southwestern Colorado have gained population, including Dolores (+12.7 percent), Archuleta (+10.6 percent), and La Plata (+8.4 percent)

More information on the ten most populous counties in Colorado.

1. El Paso County
Total population in 2020: 730,395
Total population in 2010: 622,263
Numeric change: 108,132
Percent change: 17.4 percent
Population density in 2020: 343.5 people per square mile
White alone: 70.8 percent (516,911)
Black or African American alone: 6.0 percent (43,822)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 1.0 percent (7,519)
Asian alone: 3.1 percent (22,471)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.4 percent (3,091)
Some Other Race alone: 5.9 percent (43,074)
Two or More Races: 12.8 percent (93,507)
Hispanic or Latino: 17.8 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 82.2 percent

2. Denver County
Total population in 2020: 715,522
Total population in 2010: 600,158
Numeric change: 115,364
Percent change: 19.2 percent
Population density in 2020: 4,674.3 people per square mile
White alone: 60.6 percent (433,946)
Black or African American alone: 8.9 percent (64,038)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 1.5 percent (10,601)
Asian alone: 3.9 percent (27,875)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.2 percent (1,531)
Some Other Race alone: 11.3 percent (80,773)
Two or More Races: 13.5 percent (96,758)
Hispanic or Latino: 27.9 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 72.1 percent

3. Arapahoe County
Total population in 2020: 655,070
Total population in 2010: 572,003
Numeric change: 83,067
Percent change: 14.5 percent
Population density in 2020: 821.0 people per square mile
White alone: 60.5 percent (396,027)
Black or African American alone: 10.8 percent (70,687)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 1.0 percent (6,820)
Asian alone: 6.5 percent (42,472)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.3 percent (1,777)
Some Other Race alone: 8.3 percent (54,355)
Two or More Races: 12.6 percent (82,832)
Hispanic or Latino: 20.7 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 79.3 percent

4. Jefferson County
Total population in 2020: 582,910
Total population in 2010: 534,543
Numeric change: 48,367
Percent change: 9.0 percent
Population density in 2020: 762.6 people per square mile
White alone: 79.0 percent (460,764)
Black or African American alone: 1.3 percent (7,356)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 1.0 percent (6,039)
Asian alone: 3.1 percent (18,157)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1 percent (536)
Some Other Race alone: 4.6 percent (27,086)
Two or More Races: 10.8 percent (62,972)
Hispanic or Latino: 15.7 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 84.3 percent

5. Adams County
Total population in 2020: 519,572
Total population in 2010: 441,603
Numeric change: 77,969
Percent change: 17.7 percent
Population density in 2020: 445.3 people per square mile
White alone: 55.8 percent (289,718)
Black or African American alone: 3.4 percent (17,463)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 1.8 percent (9,520)
Asian alone: 4.5 percent (23,268)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.2 percent (925)
Some Other Race alone: 16.8 percent (87,386)
Two or More Races: 17.6 percent (91,292)
Hispanic or Latino: 41.7 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 58.3 percent

6. Larimer County
Total population in 2020: 359,066
Total population in 2010: 299,630
Numeric change: 59,436
Percent change: 19.8 percent
Population density in 2020: 138.3 people per square mile
White alone: 82.4 percent (295,995)
Black or African American alone: 1.1 percent (3,815)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 0.8 percent (2,878)
Asian alone: 2.4 percent (8,538)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1 percent (325)
Some Other Race alone: 3.8 percent (13,795)
Two or More Races: 9.4 percent (33,720)
Hispanic or Latino: 12.4 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 87.6 percent

7. Douglas County
Total population in 2020: 357,978
Total population in 2010: 285,465
Numeric change: 72,513
Percent change: 25.4 percent
Population density in 2020: 426.0 people per square mile
White alone: 80.7 percent (289,005)
Black or African American alone: 1.4 percent (5,160)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 0.5 percent (1,820)
Asian alone: 5.6 percent (20,064)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1 percent (345)
Some Other Race alone: 2.1 percent (7,685)
Two or More Races: 9.5 percent (33,899)
Hispanic or Latino: 9.5 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 90.5 percent

8. Boulder County
Total population in 2020: 330,758
Total population in 2010: 294,567
Numeric change: 36,191
Percent change: 12.3 percent
Population density in 2020: 455.3 people per square mile
White alone: 77.4 percent (255,983)
Black or African American alone: 1.0 percent (3,393)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 0.8 percent (2,509)
Asian alone: 5.0 percent (16,450)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1 percent (274)
Some Other Race alone: 5.8 percent (19,148)
Two or More Races: 10.0 percent (33,001)
Hispanic or Latino: 14.6 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 85.4 percent

9. Weld County
Total population in 2020: 328,981
Total population in 2010: 252,825
Numeric change: 76,156
Percent change: 30.1 percent
Population density in 2020: 82.6 people per square mile
White alone: 70.5 percent (231,892)
Black or African American alone: 1.4 percent (4,539)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 1.8 percent (4,274)
Asian alone: 1.8 percent (5,857)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1 percent (365)
Some Other Race alone: 11.2 percent (36,769)
Two or More Races: 13.8 percent (45,285)
Hispanic or Latino: 29.9 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 70.1 percent

10. Pueblo County
Total population in 2020: 168,162
Total population in 2010: 159,063
Numeric change: 9,099
Percent change: 5.7 percent
Population density in 2020: 70.5 people per square mile
White alone: 64.7 percent (108,805)
Black or African American alone: 2.2 percent (3,642)
American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 2.3 percent (3,867)
Asian alone: 1.0 percent (1,730)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1 percent (208)
Some Other Race alone: 12.0 percent (20,226)
Two or More Races: 17.7 percent (29,684)
Hispanic or Latino: 41.6 percent
Not Hispanic or Latino: 58.4 percent
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