Population, Race and Ethnicity
Charleston is a city in Kanawha County, West Virginia, with a population of 48,734. According to the most recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, 77.40% of residents identify as white, 15.30% as Black or African American, 0.20% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 2.20% as Asian, 0.00% as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 1.20% as Hispanic or Latino, and 3.60% as some other race or combination of races.
Nationally, some 61.1% of Americans identify as white, 12.3% as Black or African American, 0.7% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 5.4% as Asian, 0.2% as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 17.8% as Hispanic or Latino, and 2.6% as some other race or combination of races.
Census respondents are also asked to report ancestry. Some of the most commonly reported ancestries in Charleston include German, American, English, Irish, and Italian. Measured by location quotient — comparing the city share to the national share — some of the most highly concentrated ancestries in city are Syrian, Cypriot, and Lebanese.
Native and foreign-born population
An estimated 95.90% of Charleston residents are native-born, meaning they were born in the United States, Puerto Rico, a U.S. Island Area, or abroad to a U.S. citizen. Of the 4.10% of the population that is foreign-born, 59.20% have become naturalized U.S. citizens. Nationwide, 86.5% of Americans are native-born. And of the 13.5% of Americans who are foreign-born, 48.5% have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
The population of Charleston is older than the United States as a whole. The median age is 41.7 years, 3.8 years more than the national median age of 37.9 years. An estimated 18.00% of the population is 65 years and over, compared to 15.2% of the U.S. population.
Family and household composition
Family and household composition also varies heavily across the United States. In Charleston, 34.30% of households are occupied by married-couple families, compared to the 48.3% national figure. Some 4.20% of households are occupied by single male householders, 14.00% by single female householders, and 47.60% by non-family occupants. Nationwide, 4.9% of households are occupied by single male householders, 12.6% by single female householders, and 34.3% by non-family occupants. An estimated 56.30% of heads of household own their homes, compared to the national homeownership rate of 63.8%.
English is by far the most commonly spoken language in West Virginia and across the U.S. as a whole. Similarly, in Charleston, 98.6% of local residents aged 5 and up speak English exclusively, or, if they are multilingual, speak English very well. For context, 99.3% of the 5 and older population across West Virginia only speaks English, or speak it very well, and 91.5% of the same age group nationwide do.
Residents of Charleston are less likely than the typical American to be married. Of all local residents aged 15 and older, 39.4% are currently married, compared to 48.1% of Americans nationwide in the same age group. Across West Virginia as a whole, 50% of residents 15 and older are married.
Divorce is far more common in Charleston than it is across the U.S. as a whole. According to Census estimates, 16.2% of residents 15 and older are divorced — compared to 10.8% of the U.S. population in the same age group. In West Virginia, 13.3% of the 15 and older population is divorced.
An estimated 34.2% of Charleston residents 15 and older have never married, compared to one-third of all Americans in the same age group.
In Charleston, 7.7% of the 18 and older civilian population are veterans — compared to 7.5% of adult civilians nationwide and 9.2% of the civilian population in all of West Virginia.
In Charleston, adults are more likely to have a high school education than the typical American adult, and are also more likely to have a four-year college education. Among Charleston residents 25 and older, 91.90% have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 38.30% have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 87.7% and 31.5% of adults nationwide, respectively. Across West Virginia, 86.5% of adults have graduated high school, and 20.3 have a bachelor’s degree.
The typical household in Charleston earns $41,701 a year, about $18,600 less than the national median of $60,293 and $3,200 less than the median household income across the state of $44,921.
Serious financial hardship is more common in Charleston than it is nationwide. The local poverty rate stands at 20.60%, while the national poverty rate is 14.1%. Across the state as a whole, 17.8% of the population lives below the poverty line.
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