The 5 Most Diverse Cities in the U.S. (Updated for 2024)

Evelyn Long

May 21, 2024

city skyline surrounded by water and birds flying in the air

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The United States is becoming more colorful by the day. The White population — people of European, Middle Eastern or North African origin — still makes up many of the country’s most diverse cities, but its slice of the pie is shrinking. Meanwhile, the number of multiracial people is rising. Gen Z, adults born from 1997 to 2009, is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the nation has seen. The next demographic cohort in line — Generation Alpha, most of whom millennials raised — will be of a wider range of hues.

The Census Bureau has found that the disproportionate racial compositions of some states are more pronounced than others. The most diverse ones are Hawaii, California, Nevada and Maryland. Washington, D.C. boasts more demographic variety than the rest of the states. Nothing mirrors the country’s diversity as closely as Arizona does.

Moreover, specific neighborhoods are surprisingly more diverse than anywhere else in the country. For example, some areas in Anchorage County, Alaska, are racially and ethnically richer than any corner of New York’s Queens borough. Dearborn, Michigan, is an interesting case because it’s predominantly White but primarily Arab.

Regarding major cities, the federal government considers these five to be the most diverse in the U.S.

1. Honolulu

View of the Honolulu cityscape from Diamond Head.

Asians comprise only 6.3% of the American population, yet they account for 42.6% of the Hawaiian capital’s residents. Most of the 50th state’s foreign-born inhabitants are members of the Filipino diaspora. The Japanese and Chinese represent the second- and third-largest ethnic groups.

Sugar cane plantations attracted the first waves of Asian immigration to the archipelago. Male laborers arrived in droves, whereas many women flew to Hawaii to meet their future husbands, whom they had only seen in pictures.

The next most significant demographic group has mixed racial ancestries. Multiracial Honolulans make up 23.2% of the city — nearly 230,000 strong. After them are White people, at 21.2%, and Hispanics and Latinos, at 10.3%.

Less than 10% of Honolulu’s citizenry are Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, making them minorities on this side of Polynesia. Considering that 19.4% of the population are foreign-born individuals who arrived between 2018 and 2022, this demographic trend will likely persist. Only 2.8% of the Honolulan society is Black, while the smallest segment is American Indian and Alaska Native, at 0.3%.

2. Jersey City, New Jersey

Liberty State Park against the backdrop of the Jersey City skyline.

Across the Hudson River from New York City is the second-most diverse American city. Its population is 25.2% Asian, 22.4% non-Hispanic White and 20.9% Black or African American. More than a quarter of Chilltown’s residents have Hispanic ancestry. Almost 42% of people who call Jersey City home originate overseas — typically from India, the Dominican Republic or Mexico.

The town has some linguistic diversity, with less than half of its residents speaking English at home. These are impressive statistics, considering the city is home to less than 300,000 people. 

The city is also home to a fair amount of economic and religious diversity. 

Part of Jersey City’s diversity is its proximity to New York City. People who work in New York City but don’t want to live in such a congested city go to Jersey City for the easy commute. Its beautiful parks and beaches allow them to escape the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple but still offer a range of housing and food options. 

3. Houston

The Sam Houston Monument as seen from the ground.

No single demographic group dominates Space City. Houston’s population is 29.1% White, 25.5% Hispanic, 21.5% Asian and 20.8% Black.

Although H-Town had sizable Hispanic and Black groups in the ‘80s, it was mostly Caucasian. The amount of Asians in Texas’s largest metropolitan area was negligible 40 years ago, but their number exploded due to immigration. Asians have demographically overtaken African Americans in the 2020s because the Black population growth has plateaued.

Many Asian immigrants in the Bayou City have disproportionately settled in Fort Bend. That’s why the number of Asian kids under 5 in the county is disproportionately more significant than their counterparts in Harris and Montgomery, where Hispanic and White children were the top groups, respectively.

The racial and ethnic compositions of little Houstonians across the three counties will dictate the city’s future diversity. By 2050, experts project that Fort Bend will be 40% Asian, Harris will be 42.4% Hispanic, and Montgomery will be 41% White. African Americans will comprise the fourth-largest demographic group in all counties in 30 years.

Houston has blossomed in recent decades, serving as a melting pot of race, culture, language and cuisine, which the city prides itself on.

If you visit Houston, you can find an Indian restaurant, Hispanic health clinic and Middle Eastern pastry shop on the same street. The residents there can reap all of the benefits of living in a diverse community.

4. New York

Pedestrians crossing in Times Square.

Immigrants built this global city. A considerable chunk of its population has come from overseas since 1850 — when the U.S. Census began noting birthplaces — living up to its name as a gateway state for foreign newcomers. This legacy lives on today as the Big Apple is as diverse as ever.

New York City’s present racial makeup reflects its past and offers a glimpse at its future. Nearly 31% of its population is non-Hispanic White because its earliest immigrants came from Europe. Another 28.3% is Hispanic, for many of its foreign residents were born in Latin America, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Ecuador and Guyana. Non-Hispanic Black and Asian account for 20.2% and 15.6% of the city’s 8.8 million population, respectively.

The Big Apple is famous for its variety of foods from all over the world and entertainment groups of different cultures and languages. With so many individuals, it’s natural that there’s a wide range of economic diversity. There’s also a good bit of religious diversity, with the largest practiced religion being Catholic at 31% of the population.

5. Los Angeles

Palm trees flanking Windsor Boulevard with a view of the Hollywood sign.

About 48% of the City of Angels is of Hispanic or Latino ancestry. Eight groups have populations exceeding 1 million — Mexican, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Cuban, Dominican, Guatemalan, Columbian and Honduran.

Approximately 28% of LA residents are White — but neither Hispanic nor Latino. Nearly 12% are Asian — Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Indian and Japanese. Only 8.6% identify as Black, while 1% are American Indian or Alaska Native. More than 12% are mixed-race.

The world’s entertainment capital has long been an immigration magnet. The California Gold Rush initially put the region on the map, but the city’s enduring appeal stems from its economic prowess. Aside from its abundant job opportunities — particularly in show business — LA’s mild weather most of the year and vibrant cultures attract people worldwide.

The city’s non-White populations also sponsor their relatives. Family-based immigration visas allow them to reunite with their loved ones and be with them for good in their second home.

This combination of factors has shaped Los Angeles’ demographics. Many racial groups in the Big Orange intermingle and coexist in various neighborhoods. Still, LA has numerous ethnic enclaves, such as Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown and Thai Town. 

Surround Yourself With Diversity

Being in a diverse city is like immersing yourself in various cultures at once. Visit or live in one to expand your worldview and be more tolerant of others. Fortunately, the U.S. has some of the most diverse cities on the planet, so strongly consider these five to add more color to your life.

Original Publish Date 8/24/2022 — Updated 5/21/2024

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