The ethnic makeup of the world's largest economy will be increasingly diverse, with more mixed- race Americans, according to the head of the U.S. Census Bureau.
"This is the decade of Tiger Woods and Barack Obama, where we talked about race combinations," Robert Groves, director of the federal agency, said about forthcoming 2010 Census data in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt," airing this weekend. "I can't wait to see the pattern of responses on multiple races. That'll be a neat indicator to watch."
The 2010 census was the second consecutive decennial count to allow residents to identify as more than one race, and Groves said it's likely that more respondents checked off multiple races.
The nation's population grew 9.7 percent to 308,745,538 in 2010, from the previous decade, with the fastest gains coming in the South and West, the agency said this week. The release included only national and state population figures, with more data on race, ethnicity, housing and other variables provided in February and March for all levels of geography.
"We'll be taught something about our society, and that is new ethnic groups are going all over the country," Groves said. "It's not just the coasts and it's not just urban areas."
The overall growth, driven by an increase in Hispanic residents, was the weakest in seven decades as the worst recession since the Great Depression stunted immigration. The latest population count shows the nation's demographic center of gravity continued to shift, advancing a decades-old movement of people and political clout away from the Northeast and Midwest.
"This is the first decade, I point out, that the Western region is larger than the Midwest region," Groves said. "The West region, these states that came last into the Union, sparsely settled, that's filling up in a way that we've never seen before."
When Obama was born in 1961, more than half the nation -- 54 percent -- lived in the Midwest and Northeast. Now, midway through his first term, 39 percent live there, the census data show.
States including Texas, Florida and Arizona are witnessing a fresh inflow of people from within the United States and beyond the nation's borders and will benefit from more representation in Washington. Ohio, New York and New Jersey are among the states that will lose seats in Congress.