Renton's population increased more than 81 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday afternoon.
The city's population increased from 50,052 in 2000 to 90,927 in 2010, an increase of 40,875. The growth boosted Renton's rank from 14th in 2000 to 9th in 2010.
The top six most populous Washington cities — Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue and Everett — remained unchanged.
On the county level, King County is still home to the most people: 1,931,249 in 2010, up from 1,737,034 in 2000. The difference represents an 11.2 percent change in population.
Renton's substantial growth over the last decade is mostly a product of the Benson Hills Community Annexation in March of 2008.
The city's diversity continues to deepen, a change Mayor Denis Law embraces.
"We want to build a relationship between the new population and the city itself," he said this afternoon.
This relationship is not only important to better understand our neighbors, he said, but it's essential for proper emergency preparedness.
However, cultural diversity can lead to social adversity, namely due to communication differences, or lack thereof.
"My concern primarily was that there was no mechanism to begin to deal with the ramifications of such diversity," Law said.
"It just had to become part of doing business," he said.
In 2009 the City formed a community liaison group to reach out to each cultural pocket in Renton. And there are many.
Eleven different cultures were represented at the first meeting, Law said, including the Hispanic, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, African American, Native American, Ukrainian, Sudanese, Somali and Sikh communities.
And again, in 2009, Renton proved that it was ahead of the curve. Over the last decade, Renton's diversity has continued to increase.
Twenty years ago 83.5 percent of the community identified themselves as white. In 2000, the number decreased to 68.1 percent. Today, only 54.6 percent of the Renton community is white.
In the last two decades the Asian/Pacific Islander population has tripled, from 6.9 percent in 1990, to 13.9 percent in 2000 to the current-day 22 percent. During the same time, the Hispanic population nearly doubled from 7.6 percent to 13.1 percent.
Other races include 10.6 percent African American, .7 percent Native American, 6.2 percent "other," and 5.8 percent of the Renton population reported being of two or more races.
Renton Superintendent Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel put the census numbers in perspective. The school district collected considerably different data from its student body.
According to Renton School District data, the 2010-2011 student body is 35 percent white, 22 percent African American, and 26 percent Asian.
Next year the data will be more specific, Dr. Heuschel said, which will better reflect the diversity of the student body across the sentry.
Today's data release also included housing occupancy statistics. Currently, the 36,009 Renton housing units are 92.5 percent occupied, or 2,921 of those units are vacant, according to the 2010 Census.