We weren’t surprised by recent stats that show a growing number of minorities in Kansas.  What caught us off guard was the overall decrease of White residents.    

Even before we read the recently released Kansas Health Foundation report “A Changing Kansas,” some things were obvious.

  1. Kansas isn’t an American hot spot, people aren’t just beating down the doors to move here. 
  2. We can look around our neighborhoods, and others, and clearly see a changing racial demographic.  It’s very obvious, there is an increasing number of minorities in Kansas, particularly Hispanics. 
  3. We can even see the growth in population in Kansas urban areas.
  4. While, we haven’t spent much time in rural Kansas, we’ve seen the reports about the exodus from and near demise of some small Kansas towns.

But what surprised us was the negative growth in Kansas’ White population.  Yes, Kansas is losing White residents.  From 2000 to 2016, the Kansas population grew a paltry 8.1%.  Compare that to a nationwide increase in population of 14.8%. However, during that same timeframe, the White population in Kansas didn’t just grow slowly, it decreased by .3%.  The state experienced a net loss of 6,000 White residents. 

While that’s not a major increase, it is particularly surprising when you compare that decrease to an increase in population in every other racial and ethnic group in Kansas.  The Black population in Kansas grew 19.1% with an increase of about 31,000 residents.  However, the big growth was in the Hispanic population.  There was a net increase of approximately 150,000 Hispanic living in Kansas, approximately an 80% increase in population.

According to the KHF report, from 2000 to 2016, all population growth in the state was among minority populations.  Every county in the state saw an increase in minority population, while the White population actually decreased.

“The urban areas of our state have seen some increase in the White population,” says Steve Coen, head of the Kansas Health Foundation, which commissioned the report. “If we did not have this growth in minority population in the state of Kansas, we would not have had any growth in Kansas whatsoever in the last 16 years.”

Comparing Kansas numbers to national numbers from 2000 – 2016, we found nationally the White population only increased 2%, for a net 4 million gain.  Again compare that to national growth of 20% for African Americans, a net gain of 20 million, and Hispanics, with a net gain of 32 million, up 63%.

Majority Minority State

Given current growth patterns, with the majority, non-Hispanic White population projected to continue to decline, and minority populations projected to increase substantially. By the year 2066, the KHF report projects Kansas will be a majority minority state. 

Urban versus Rural

Other surprising stats in the study, confirm the slow demise of rural Kansas.  Growth in Kansas is not occurring evenly across the state.  From 1960 to 2016, frontier Kansas – the most rural areas of the state – lost 41% of their population, and rural areas lost 22% of their residents. Compare that to Kansas Urban areas that increased in population during the same time frame by 80%.  Which bodes the old question, “How you going to keep them down on the farm, after they’ve seen … Kansas City or Wichita.”

Aging Population

Kansas population is also aging.  The median age of Kansans in 2000 was 35.2 years. By the year 2016, it had increased to 36.5 years. The proportion of Kansans who are age 65 and over is also increasing. In 2000, there were 356,229 Kansans age 65 and over, and they comprised 13.3% of the population. By 2016, the population of Kansans age 65 and over had increased to 436,993, or 15% percent of the population.

According to previous population projection research in Kansas, as baby boomers age, a projected 24.2% of the population in Kansas will be age 65 and over by the year 2034.

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