Some results from the decennial 2020 United States census are in, showing slight population growth, a high percentage of unoccupied residences in Teton County and slightly changed — and potentially undercounted — racial demographics.
The county population increased 9.6% from 21,294 to 23,331, according to the census. In the same period, Wyoming’s population increased from 563,626 to 576,851 and the U.S. population increased from 308,745,538 to 331,449,281.
According to Jackson town Councilor Jonathan Schechter, the county population has probably increased since the pandemic began, but that change isn’t reflected in the April 2020 census because much of the population boom came after the count.
“We’ve almost certainly seen a huge uptick in our population,” said Schechter, who also noted that there also has likely been “a huge uptick” in the percentage of homes considered to be primary homes or permanently occupied.
According to the 2020 census, 9,609 out of 13,233 residences in the county were occupied. Many of those housing units were likely vacation homes or short-term rentals, Schechter said, but some of those homeowners have since moved to the county on a more permanent basis, while others sold their homes to people seeking to live in the county on a permanent basis.
Had the census been taken later, it might have captured such shifts, Schechter said.
“The census is a snapshot in time,” he said. “And that particular snapshot was taken at the early stages of COVID-19, when everybody across the country was still struggling to figure out how we would all adapt.”
Many people adapted by moving permanently to Teton County, said Schechter, who also noted that Latinos, along with the total population and percentage of occupied housing units, were likely undercounted.
Census data reports 3,295 Latinos in the county, or 14.1% of the 23,331, a lower percentage than the 15% in 2010.
“The proportion of Latinos in our communities is almost certainly undercounted and almost certainly dramatically undercounted,” Schechter said.
There are several tracts — or different survey areas — in Teton County on the census. In the tract that makes up most of Jackson, 21.5% of the population, or 785 out of 3,650 people, are Latino. The vast majority of the rest of the population is white non-Latinos.
In the tract making up most of the unincorporated county, 8.5% percent of the population, or 210 out of 2,458 people, are Latino.
While the percentage of Latino residents in the county has fallen, according to the census, it has risen in Wyoming from 8.9% to 10.2%.
The U.S. Census Bureau said the non-Latino white population decreased by 8.6% since 2010, and the multiracial population changed from 9 million people in 2010 to 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase.