African Americans represented just under half of the total population of Charles County last year according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, placing the county on the cusp of historic change.
According to the latest population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, Charles County residents who identify themselves as African American alone and not in combination with another racial group make up 49% of the county’s total population.
Nationwide, there are only around 100 counties whose populations are 50% or more African American, which the Census Bureau defines as majority African American.
Furthermore, when Charles County becomes majority African American it will overtake Prince George’s County as the nation’s wealthiest majority African American county.
African Americans have been the largest racial group in Charles County since 2015, when census data showed the African American community reached 44.9% of the total population, or approximately 79,100 residents.
Nationwide, people who have identified themselves as African Americans alone and not in combination with another racial group make up 13.4% of the total population.
The African American population in Charles County grew 1.5% between 2017 and 2018. Projecting that rate of growth forward, it is likely that the county will become majority African American this year.
The county’s Hispanic population has been surging as well, according to the latest population data.
“When you look at Hispanic origin, you can really see that the Hispanic population is growing more rapidly than the non-Hispanic population in Charles County,” Luke Rogers, chief of Population Estimates Branch, told the Maryland Independent.
Last year, the county’s Hispanic population was estimated to be 9,754, representing 6% of the population. However, Rogers said, the county’s Hispanic population grew by 6.2% last year while the non-Hispanic population grew by only 1% overall.
Since 2010, the county’s Hispanic population has grown by 55.8%, while the non-Hispanic population grew by 8.2%.
The estimated population of Charles County who identified as white alone was estimated to have declined to 42.8% in 2018, or just over 69,100.
The county’s population is also skewing older, according to the data.
In 2018, there were an estimated 20,198 people aged 65 and older living in Charles County, an increase over the previous year of 4.1%, or just under 800 people.
Since 2010, though, the 65-and-over age group has increased by an estimated total of 6,343, or a 45.8% increase of that population group.
“That’s pretty large,” Rogers said.
Although the county’s 18-and-under population is still larger than the 65-and-over population; last year it grew by only half a percent and since 2010 has actually declined by that same percentage.
Charles County still has a higher percentage of children 18 and under than the national average — 24% compared to 22.4% — and a lower percentage of adults 65 and over — 12.5% compared to 16%.
Last year the median age in Charles County, 38.4, was only slightly higher than the nationwide median of 38.2 years.
As previously reported in the Maryland Independent, Charles County has been Maryland’s second fastest growing county in terms of percentage for three years in a row, averaging a little over 10% in population increase between April 2010 and July 2018.
As of July 1 of last year, Charles County’s population was estimated to be just over 161,500.