Hawaii is still by far the most diverse state in the country, but recent trends show the islands inching toward the U.S. mainland in race, citizenship and language.

The percentage of Hawaii citizens who identify themselves only as white rose from 24.1 percent in the 2000 Census to 26.9 percent in the American Community Survey conducted between 2005 and 2009, Civil Beat found. At the same time, the percentage of those identifying as at least part-Asian dropped from 67.2 percent to 55 percent and the percentage identifying as at least part-Pacific Islander dipped from 24.4 percent to 23.1 percent.

The proportion of Caucasians went up in 92 of 131 towns across the state.1 In Haliimaile, Maui, the rate nearly tripled, going from 10.2 percent 10 years ago to 30.2 percent in the survey. Seven different towns are now more than three-quarters white, surpassing the national mark of 74.5 percent. The top five are all on neighbor islands, which have a dramatically higher proportion of whites than Honolulu.

Geography White Only
2009 ACS
White Only
2000 Census
Maalaea 93.7% 82.8%
Kaanapali 90.1% 80.8%
Puako 85.8% 70.7%
Princeville 84.7% 84.4%
Poipu 80.6% 65.9%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of U.S. Census and American Community Survey data — See the Full Table

Of course, Hawaii still has the lowest proportion of white residents in the nation by a huge margin, and the highest proportion of Asians and Pacific Islanders. Broken down further, 14.7 percent of all Hawaii residents now identify themselves as Japanese, 13.6 percent as Filipino, 5.8 percent as Native Hawaiian and 4.1 percent as Chinese. All of those marks are down from 2000. (See the
full tables.)

Still, Hawaii remains the only state where Caucasians are a minority.

State White Only At least part-Asian At least part-Pacific Islander
United States 74.5% 5.0% 0.3%
Hawaii 26.9% 55.0% 23.1%
Mississippi 60.0% 1.0% 0.1%
Maryland 60.9% 5.5% 0.1%
California 61.3% 13.6% 0.6%
Georgia 62.1% 3.1% 0.1%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of American Community Survey data — See the Full Table

Hawaii also has among the fewest residents born in the Unites States — its mark of 80.3 percent was lower than the U.S.’s 86.3 percent and surpassed only by California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Nevada. Hawaii is the only state in the country that has a lower percentage of foreign-born residents than it did a decade ago.

See how your community stacks up in the full table.

Meanwhile, the proportion of Hawaii residents who speak only English has gone up in the past decade even as it’s gone down nationwide. On top of that, more of those who speak an Asian or Pacific Island language in the home say they speak English “very well” than felt that way in 2000. Children ages 5 through 17 are most likely to speak only English and most likely to speak English very well even if they speak another language at home.

See how your community stacks up in the full table.

In the new survey, Hawaii has the highest proportion of citizens who speak Japanese (4.0 percent), Korean (1.4 percent) and Tagalog (4.3 percent). Only California and New York have higher proportions of Chinese-speakers. In Hawaii, Japanese-speakers were most likely (55.1 percent) to speak English very well, followed by Tagalog (51.4 percent), Chinese (44.5 percent) and Korean (35 percent).

See how your community stacks up in the full table.

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