The Demographic State of the United States in 2012

Recession Still Affecting Economic Recovery

Slow growth in employment and home values, and tight credit continue to hamper economic recovery. Although there are a few positive signs, such as modest increases in consumer spending and slightly higher sales of existing homes in some areas, effects of the recession are still impacting overall economic recovery. The US population also continues to change in terms of racial and ethnic diversity and different family types and households.

Population Diversity and Change

As of 2012, the US population is 313 million. Growing diversity continues to effect striking changes in the population. This is evident from use of Esri’s proprietary Diversity Index, which summarizes racial and ethnic diversity in an area. This measure shows the likelihood that two persons, chosen at random from the same area, belong to different races or ethnic groups. The index ranges from 0 (no diversity) to 100 (complete diversity). Esri’s Diversity Index for the United States has risen from 60.6 in 2010 to 61.4 in 2012, with a forecast of 63.8 in five years.

United States by county clearly shows pockets of growth that may indicate job opportunities in those areas.
United States by county clearly shows pockets of growth that may indicate job opportunities in those areas.

The composition of America’s 118 million households is also becoming more diverse. Although husband-wife families remain the dominant household type, their share of all households continues to slip—from 52 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2010. From 2000 to 2010, the real increase in family households was in single-parent families, up by 22 percent, and multigenerational households, up by 30 percent. Husband-wife families increased by less than 4 percent in 10 years, and husband-wife families with children declined.

All family households increased by 8 percent from 2000 to 2010; nonfamily households increased by 16 percent. The fastest-growing nonfamily households, however, are unmarried partners—opposite-sex partners by 40 percent and same-sex partners by 52 percent from 2000 to 2010. At 80 percent, single-person households retain the highest proportion of nonfamily households, but the increase was less than 15 percent in the past decade. Nontraditional family types are the growing segments of households.


Although positive signs are noted in areas less affected by the housing boom/bust and employment decline, recovery of the overall housing market remains slow. The 2011 homeownership rate of 64 percent remains the same for 2012. Since 2010, housing growth has been sluggish. Fewer than 900,000 units were added annually, down from 2 million annually at the peak of the housing boom. Many markets are still coping with an excess of vacant, for-sale, and foreclosed properties left over from the collapse of the housing market and the Great Recession. Almost one in four counties shows no growth or a loss of housing from Census 2010 to 2012. Significant housing losses also occurred due to natural disasters in the past year, such as the wildfire in Bastrop County, Texas, and tornadoes in Indiana and Missouri.

Diverse reasons are behind housing growth in the following metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs): in the Jacksonville, NC; Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX; and Manhattan, KS MSAs, because of the military presence. Growth is also apparent in the Morgantown, WV; Auburn-Opelika, AL; Logan, UT-ID; and Manhattan MSAs, which encompass large college towns with good climates and growing economies. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA is a retirement hot spot—especially for Californians. The Austin, TX; Raleigh-Cary, NC; and Myrtle Beach, SC MSAs are also continuing to grow.


The US labor force is emerging from its most severe contraction since World War II. Since 2010, the economy added nearly 3 million jobs, raising the total work force to 142 million. This growth has been geographically broad, with every region and division adding people to payrolls. Only Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Rhode Island registered a net reduction in workers. The total number of unemployed shrank from 16.7 million to 14.9 million people. The US rate of unemployment (the percentage of unemployed within the civilian labor force) declined. The US labor force participation rate (civilians employed, plus the unemployed as a percentage of the US population aged 16 years and older) also declined by less than 1 percent to 63.4 percent. The reduction in unemployment results from increasing employment or workers leaving the labor force.

About 2012/2017 Updated Demographics

To perform actionable location analytics in these challenging times, you need the industry’s most accurate, trusted data. The 2012/2017 Updated Demographics database includes a full roster of current-year estimates and five-year projections for population, income, race/ethnicity, home value, net worth, disposable income, and more.

Recently ranked #1 for accuracy in a blind, independent study, Esri’s 2012/2017 demographic estimates and forecasts were produced with proven methodologies to provide the highest possible level of accuracy.

Delivered in a wide range of geographies, formats, and variables, Esri’s Updated Demographics is available as an ad hoc database that integrates seamlessly into GIS software and is packaged in products including Esri Business Analyst Online, Esri Business Analyst for Desktop, Esri Business Analyst for Server, Esri Community Analyst, and ArcGIS Online.

For more information about Esri’s 2012/2017 Updated Demographics, visit