(Opinion) NH’s misunderstood race, ethnicity demographics

Despite being one of the least diverse states, the state’s BIPOC and Hispanic populations are increasing in number
The population profile for New Hampshire is often over simplified. Conversation typically revolves around New Hampshire’s population being predominantly rural, older and white. Recently, we’ve seen this belief reflected in the vote by the Democratic National Committee to move away from New Hampshire and its first-in-the-nation presidential primary because of our lack of diversity and their desire to “ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire window,” putting New Hampshire second-in-line after South Carolina.

While data supports those generalizations, these opinions lack a general understanding of our local communities and diminish the value in digging deeper and understanding the more complex and nuanced stories that emerge when looking at the almost 1.4 million people who live, work, play and pray in the Granite State.

A newly released brief from the NH Center for Justice and Equity summarizes New Hampshire’s race and ethnicity demographics data. The brief uses data from a variety of resources, including the NH Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Data Portal, NH Office of Strategic Initiatives, Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Center and the Census Bureau.

Race and ethnicity demographics findings include:

• Just over 10 percent (10.4 percent) of the population in New Hampshire is Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC), according to the census data, collected from 2016 to 2020, and 89.6 percent of the population is white. The percentage of people who are BIPOC increased over 3 percent in the past 10 years.

• Just under 5 percent (4.7 percent) of the population is Hispanic, according to the 2016-2020 estimates, and 95.3 percent of the population is not Hispanic. The percentage of people who are Hispanic increased almost 2 percent in the past 10 years.

The BIPOC and Hispanic populations (approximately 141,000 and 63,000 people, respectively) live all around New Hampshire. For example, 4.5 percent of people in Carroll County and 16.3 percent of people in Hillsborough County are BIPOC. (Image is from the NH Health Data Portal.)

The Census Bureau uses the Diversity Index as a summary measure, which indicates how likely that two random people will be from different racial or ethnic groups. New Hampshire’s Diversity Index has increased over time, from 15 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2020; increases in the Diversity Index occurred in every NH county.

The Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Center reporting of race and ethnicity indicates that the New Hampshire population under 18 is more diverse than the state overall. The Kids Count Data Center provides age-specific estimates that show that children under 18 range from 16 to 18 percent BIPOC or Hispanic (using Census Bureau estimates from 2016-2020).

This data shows that, despite being one of the least diverse states in terms of race and ethnicity demographics, New Hampshire’s BIPOC and Hispanic populations are increasing in number in New Hampshire. Having a state that is welcoming and supportive to people from all backgrounds will allow New Hampshire to stay well, productive and competitive.

Anthony Poore is president of the NH Center for Justice & Equity, Manchester.

Categories: Opinion