Vulnerable Populations

Race and Ethnicity

As a whole, the metro area is somewhat less racially and ethnically diverse than the nation.

Race and ethnicity are highly correlated with poverty and thus often with health outcomes. How minority populations are growing, moving and changing has a significant impact on society, including health and how we address health issues.

Total Population by Race/Ethnicity, 2015
White 1,622,391
Black 256,899
American Indian 9,251
Asian 52,522
Pacific Islander 2,826
Other 50,395
2+ Races 61,391
Hispanic 176,860
Non-Hispanic 1,878,815


In general, the 11-county region is somewhat less racially and ethnically diverse than the national average of 37.7 percent. Only the two most urban counties, Wyandotte and Jackson, with 57.4 and 37.2 percent non-white populations respectively, equal or exceed the MSA average (26.6 percent).


Population Totals by County, 2015
  White Non-White
Cass 89,501 11,280
Clay 190,625 39,736
Jackson 427,402 253,503
Lafayette 30,428 2,488
Platte 77,327 16,067
Ray 21,691 1,340
Allen 11,928 1,153
Johnson 459,104 107,710
Leavenworth 62,071 16,156
Miami 30,429 2,259
Wyandotte 68,467 92,339

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 ACS, 5-year data

Racial and ethnic diversity is increasing, and at a faster rate than the national average.

There is a significant variation among the 11 counties in the change in non-white population between 2000 and 2015, as shown in this chart. The non-white population more than doubled during this period in the suburban counties of Johnson, Cass, Clay, and Platte. Non-white populations also increased substantially, although at lesser rates, in other counties.

Non-white populations in the Kansas City MSA grew by 41.6 percent from 2000 to 2015.

In absolute numbers, minority populations grew the most in urban and suburban counties.

The absolute change in non-whites shows a somewhat different picture than percentage change. The urban counties of Jackson and Wyandotte saw substantial absolute gains in the non-white population from 2000 to 2015. However, the largest absolute gain came in suburban Johnson County, and a substantial gain occurred in Clay County as well.

Change in Non-White Population, 2000-2015
Cass +6,472
Clay +22,175
Jackson +42,050
Lafayette +818
Platte +8,516
Ray +370
Allen +284
Johnson +58,052
Leavenworth +3,820
Miami +832
Wyandotte +15,991

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Decennial Census and 2015 ACS, 5-year data

The Hispanic population is growing in every county, while black population growth varies.

The makeup of the growing diversity in the region varies across counties. From 2000 to 2015, the Hispanic population grew significantly in every county, outpacing overall growth by a wide margin in each county. The growth of the black population varied across the counties, but was substantial in percentage terms in Johnson, Cass, Clay and Platte counties.


Data is the most current available as of September 2017.

Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | ©