by Dr. Jamie Lynch, Associate Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Strategic Research Institute St. Norbert College and Envision board member
The 2020 census brings new data to old stories of diversity and growth in Brown County. It’s still early, and more information will continue to become available, but here are four data points likely to shape the future of greater Green Bay.
8.4% growth rate
The newest census data confirm what you already know: Brown County is growing fast – more than twice as fast as the state of Wisconsin over the past decade. With a population increase of 8.4%, local schools, services, and businesses need to prepare now to serve our new neighbors. Given that population growth is likely to remain constant for the next few years, population-informed Foresight Analysis should be a key component of strategic planning efforts.
The Hispanic population remains the second largest racial/ethnic group in Brown County at just under 10% of the county population. But not every age group is diversifying at the same rate. For example, 29.7% of the students in the Green Bay Area Public Schools, the largest school district in the area, identify as Hispanic. This data point reinforces a common demographic finding in the United Sates: Diversity is strongly correlated with age. This is one of many important population indicators that strongly indicate growing rates of racial and ethnic diversity in Brown County, especially among the youth and young adult populations.
65+ group expanding
We are living longer lives. As longevity increases decade to decade, concerns about how best to help older citizens live purposeful lives will be a top priority for policy makers, employers, and the greater Green Bay community. According to the American Census Bureau’s “American Community Survey,” 15.7% of the Brown County population were age 65 or older in 2019. The graying of America, Wisconsin, and especially Brown County, means we need a plan today to positively support our important older citizens.
A new census form option, coupled with changing cultural norms of racial identity, is at the root of the dramatic increase in the proportion of Americans identifying as multiracial. In Brown County, the percentage of the population identifying as two or more races increased from 2.2% in 2010 to 7.2% in 2020. Much of this change is driven by a sharp increase in the proportion of the Hispanic population identifying as multiracial. From 2010 to 2020, the percentage of the Brown County Hispanic population identifying as two or more races increased from 7% to more than 34%. These increases portend a rapidly changing racial classification system that will likely be updated again and again before the 2030 census. Following the racial classification changes in the interim American Community Survey will be key to understanding how Brown County can best serve our rapidly diversifying community.
To learn more about population data important to you, visit the American Community Survey website at www.census.gov. Wondering how to make use of population data and Foresight Analysis to inform your own strategic plan? Learn more about foresight training right here in Green Bay by visiting the Foresight Analysis Action page on our own Envision website.