A First for MENA Community: Detailed Census Data

Matthew Jaber Stiffler
September 21, 2023
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For the first time ever, we have detailed demographic data on the Arab and MENA populations from the decennial U.S. Census.


The Census Bureau just released the detailed race and ethnicity data from the 2020 census and issued a fantastic report on the MENA community in the U.S. From the data and the report we now have the best available data on how MENA folks self-identify, according to nationality or ethnic group indicated on the write-in portion of the 2020 Census. We also have age and sex data as well as locations of the largest concentrations by state and county.


As an overview, we have a new number to use for the MENA population—3.5 million. While this is likely an undercount of the actual population of the community, it is the best data we have. The largest self-reported sub-ancestries nationally were Lebanese, Iranian, and Egyptian. And the states with the highest total populations are California (740,219), Michigan(310,087), and New York (304,739). There are also large populations in Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Chart from U.S. Census Bureau's report on MENA populations

CAN will be posting much more about this groundbreaking census data in the coming weeks and months. CAN will also continue fighting for a separate MENA box to be implemented in future federal data collection, including the 2030 decennial census.