Census: Hispanics fuel US white population growth

By HOPE YEN | September 29, 2011 | 1:45 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — New census figures show an unexpected reason behind a renewed growth in the U.S. white population: more Hispanics listing themselves as white in the government count.

The shift is due to recent census changes that emphasize "Hispanic" as an ethnicity, not a race.

The result: a 6 percent increase in white Americans in the 2010 count. In all, the number of people in the "white alone" category jumped by 12.1 million over the last decade to 223.6 million. Based on that definition, whites represent 72 percent of the total population.

The figures also show the number of Americans who identified as partly black, partly white, doubled to 1.8 million. The black-white combination is the most prevalent group among multiracial Americans, about 1 in 5.