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The 2020 U.S. Census, also referred to as “America Counts” has launched a state-by-state look at the demographic changes that the new 2020 Census results reveal. Among key population characteristics for Colorado, which at 14.8 percent growth is one of the top 13 growth states in the nation.

As a nation – these are our stats:

  • Population (up 7.4 percent to 331.4 million)
  • Race and ethnicity (White alone 61.6 percent; Black alone 12.4 percent; Hispanic 18.7 percent; Asian alone 6 percent; American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1.1 percent; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 0.2 percent; Some Other Race alone 8.4 percent; Two or More Races 10.2 percent).
  • Diversity Index (61.1 percent, up from 54.9 percent in 2010)
  • Ages under-18 (down 1.4 percent) and adult population over age 18 (up 10.1 percent)
  • Housing units (up 6.7 percent) and vacancies (down to 9.7 percent)

Diversity and Race

Colorado is becoming a more diverse place, but much of that diversity is centered in the state’s major metropolitan areas. Arapahoe, Denver, and Adams counties (in that order) are the most diverse in the entire state. By contrast, Chaffee County’s diversity index of 29.8 falls a distant 22.5 points below the Colorado index.

At 62.4 percent, Arapahoe County leads all 64 Colorado counties as a place of great ethnic diversity and inclusion — at least from a racial population standpoint. Ironically, or perhaps not surprisingly, Arapahoe County is also one of the state’s leading business areas; home of the Denver Technological Center, thousands of major corporate headquarters which adhere to diversity standards, and some of the best school districts in the nation. But next door in Douglas County, the diversity index is only 37.9 percent – which may indicate a major gap in how the two counties approach both diversity and inclusion.

While Colorado ethnicity is becoming more diverse, Chaffee County is much more white; its diversity lags far behind the state index:

Colorado White only population      70.5

Chaffee County white only pop.       85.7

Colorado Diversity index:                  52.3

Chaffee County Diversity index:       29.8

Ethnic Breakout

                                            Chaffee County        Colorado

White                                                     85.7              70.5

Hispanic or Latino                                9.5              21.9

Black/African American                      1.5                5.5

Native American                                     .7                3.6

Asian                                                         .7                4.9

Two or more ethnicities                      3.9              12.3

Colorado Population Divide

The state population over the age of 18 has grown, while the percent of Chaffee County Population older than 18 is higher than the State’s percentage. In fact, Chaffee ranks eighth, among the 64 counties, of the counties with older populations. Which of course means that only 15.4 percent of the county’s population is under 18, compared to 21.9 percent under the age of 18 across all of Colorado:

Population           Over age-18     Under age-18

Colorado               78.1                   21.9

Chaffee                  84.6                  15.4


  • The gap between the growth in Colorado’s diversity and the county’s lack of diversity (compared to the state) has continued to widen over the past decade. What may happen in the next decade in Chaffee County might depend upon active decisions to embrace the state’s demographics, or not.
  • It raises the question if Chaffee’s diversity had increased even slightly in the last few years, would we have attracted even more newcomers and topped that 20,000 population hurdle (it missed it by a few hundred people, coming in at 19,476). That (somewhat arbitrary) population bar measured at each Census opens the door to many government grants and services.  Yes, growth has its challenges but it’s a rising tide that floats all boats and rewards ALL of Chaffee residents.
  • The higher percentage of county residents over age 18 might be a warning that the county is still not producing living-wage, full-time career opportunities for young families. It also may be an indication that the continued rise in home prices (here and in other central mountain counties) is rising past the reach of young, working families who can’t stay where they can’t afford to raise their families. By contrast, Arapahoe county grew 14.5 percent and increased its population across all age groups.