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What the 2020 Census Statistics Reveal for the Future of Recruiting

The first batch of 2020 U.S. Census data has arrived, revealing some not-entirely-unexpected shifts in population and demographics. What does all this mean from a talent acquisition perspective? We’re breaking it down.


Location, Location, Location

Location has been a major topic of discussion for employers and employees in the past year or two, and the Census data reveals more developments. Overall, the population of metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, although the overall share of population in metro areas has only increased slightly. Currently, 86% of the U.S. population live in metro areas, compared to 85% in 2010; 312 out of the 384 U.S. metro areas experienced population growth in the past decade.


This particular statistic is interesting given the context of the past year or two, with the sharp rise in remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2021 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed the importance of remote work options: 32% of respondents said that an appealing remote work option would be a strong incentive for currently unemployed workers to accept a new full-time position. Meanwhile, a survey by Slack (reported in Fortune) reported, “Workers are split on returning to the office. Around 3 in 10 workers would never or rarely want to return to the office.


Given this information about the new hybrid and remote work realities, one might expect that there might be less of a need for people to live in cities and major metro areas. Instead, it appears that the metropolitan population is still growing, not shrinking. Corporate leaders and human resource talent acquisition teams should not take this as a sign that everything will be “back to normal” before we know it. Instead, it should be an indicator that many factors go into decisions of location, and employers should be prepared to handle a variety of options in order to have the best chance possible of recruiting and retaining top talent.


Diversity Data

The 2020 Census data reveals shifts in demographics that Chief Human Resource Officers/Chief Diversity Officers should be aware of, especially when working on implementing successful DEI initiatives. Among some of the most significant findings:

  • The White population remained the largest race or ethnicity group, with 204.3 million people identifying as White alone. However, that population has decreased by 8.6% since 2010.
  • The Multiracial population saw large increases: from 9 million people in 2010 to 33.8 million people in 2020.
  • The Hispanic or Latino population (which can include people of any race, with new questions to more accurately and specifically measure these groups) grew 23%.
  • Respondents identifying as “Some Other Race,” alone or in combination increased 129% to 49.9 million, surpassing the Black or African American population (46.9 million) as the second-largest race alone or in the combination group.
  • The chance that two people, chosen randomly, will be from different racial or ethnic groups has increased over 6%: to 61.1% in 2020 from 54.9% in 2010.

The increasing diversity of the population – and, by extension, the workplace – is something HR should monitor, continually developing and improving practices for an inclusive workplace. It’s not just corporate culture and reputation that’s at stake here – it’s the overall success of the organization.


A 2018 report from McKinsey found a correlation between diversity and financial success. Organizations that ranked in the top quartile for gender diversity in their leadership were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability, and those in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity were 33% more likely to similarly outperform. On the opposite side of the spectrum,
companies in the bottom quartile for both gender diversity and ethnic/cultural diversity were 29% less likely to show above-average profitability.


Generation Gaps

Generations aging in and out of the workplace is a constant concern when managing the workforce, and COVID has only accelerated these movements. Pew Research reported that, between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020, 3.2 million more Boomers reported having retired – many of whom did so early due to pandemic-related pressures. As a result, the makeup of the workplace has similarly shifted.


The Census data does note an ongoing age shift, especially at the younger end of the spectrum. The adult (18 and older) population grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people by the end of this past decade. That age group, which now comprises 77.9% of the population, actually grew faster than the U.S. population as a whole. For expanding companies, this indicates growth in the segment of young people aging into the workplace, bringing with them a fresh set of norms, ideas, and expectations.


More data and statistics from the U.S. Census will continue to be released over the next several months. Blue Rock will be keeping a close eye on these numbers and reporting developments to you, so you have the information you need to build a positive, inclusive, and healthy workplace and company culture for all.

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