Walla Walla County

Between 2010 and 2020, Walla Walla County’s population grew significantly slower than Washington state as a whole. What growth it did experience can be almost entirely attributed to growing Hispanic and multi-racial populations while non-Hispanic white populations decline, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The results of the 2020 Census have a significant, decade-long impact on every community in the U.S. They determine how congressional and legislative districts are redrawn, how federal funds are dispersed, and even whether private businesses decide to open up a new shop in a growing town.

Census numbers should also be taken with a grain of salt—while they are the most detailed look into the U.S. population available, there have always been undercounts, particularly with people of color. There are also concerns that the pandemic and actions by the Trump administration could lower accuracy of the 2020 Census. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a post-census survey to estimate how far off the census tally was, which will be available in early 2022. However, the 2020 Census numbers are largely final, and the count is used as-is to determine how federal funds and political power is distributed through the U.S.

Washington’s population has increased by nearly 1 million people in the last decade, or around 15%. In Walla Walla County, the population grew by 3,803 for a total of 62,584 in 2020, an increase of around 6%.

But the non-Hispanic white population fell substantially in the last decade, dropping by 1,024 people for a total of 42,580 in 2020. Meanwhile, there were 2,613 more Hispanic residents in the county in 2020 than a decade prior, and 1,885 more multi-racial residents. That growth kept Walla Walla County’s overall population from declining in last year’s census.

Hispanic residents made up around 23% of the county’s population in 2020, while non-Hispanic white residents made up around 68%. Multi-racial residents made up around 5%.

There are also fewer children in the county than there were in 2010, with 253 fewer children counted in 2020. While there were an additional 250 Hispanic children counted in the 2020 census than ten years prior, the number of non-Hispanic white children fell by over 900 during the same time period.

As of 2020, there were around 13,000 Walla Walla County residents under the age of 18, or around 21%. In 2010, around 23% of county residents were under 18. This closely mirrors a slightly older population statewide: around 22% of all Washington residents in 2020 were under the age of 18, down from closer to 24% in 2010.

City of Walla Walla

Walla Walla had 34,060 residents in 2020, an increased of 2,329 from 2010, or around 7%. Like the wider county, the city’s growth is entirely attributed to increases in Hispanic and multi-racial populations while non-Hispanic white populations slightly declined.

There 22,237 non-Hispanic white residents in the city in 2020, 92 fewer than 2010. The Hispanic population grew by 1,320 in the same time period, for a total of 8,290 residents, while the multi-racial population grew by 957 for a total of 1,721 residents.

Hispanic residents made up a little less than 22% of the city’s residents in 2010. In 2020, that rate was more than 24%. Multi-racial residents have gained even more ground, from a bit over 2% in 2010 to 5% in 2020.

Despite the decline in non-Hispanic white residents in the last decade, that demographic remains the majority within Walla Walla, down from 70% in 2010 to 65% in 2020.

Like the county at-large, there were fewer children in Walla Walla last year than a decade prior. There were 190 fewer children in the 2020 census, driven by a decline in non-Hispanic white children. In 2010, 22% of the city’s residents were under the age of 18, falling to just under 20% in 2020.

Emry Dinman can be reached at emrydinman@wwub.com or 425-941-5829.

Reporter covering agriculture, Walla Walla city and county government, and other topics.

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