* Hispanic, Asian populations to more than double
* Whites to peak in 2024, blacks to see slight increase
* Overall U.S. population to grow slowly over next 50 yrs
* Census: whites will be the minority in 2043
By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON, Dec 12 A surge in Hispanics and
Asians is set to dramatically change the face of the United
States over the next 50 years, with no one ethnic group the
majority, according to U.S. figures that depict an aging nation
with slower population growth.
By 2060, non-whites will make up 57 percent of the U.S.
population, more than doubling from 116.2 million in 2012 to
241.3 million, according to projections by the U.S. Census
Bureau released on Wednesday. Racial minorities are now 37
percent of the population, it said.
The shift will largely be fueled by minority births that
continue to outpace those of whites, the agency said, based on
data from the 2010 Census.
Nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic by 2060,
up from one in six now, it said. The Asian population is also
expected to more than double over the next five decades.
"The U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the
non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group,
but no group is in the majority," Thomas Mesenbourg, the
agency's acting director, said in a statement.
The United States has been on a steady path to greater
racial diversity, and experts have predicted for years that
minorities would be the "majority" before 2050. The Census
Bureau on Wednesday projected that would happen in 2043.
Such a shift may take decades, but the expected changes are
already reshaping politics, public policy, the economy and
The looming changes are especially evident as the country
grapples with controversial issues from immigration and gay
marriage to Medicare reform and social safety net programs in
the wake of the recent presidential election.
Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama won a second term
with overwhelming support from Latinos, blacks and younger
voters. Gay marriage - now before the nation's top court - has
been legalized in several states, which experts say shows
growing acceptance among younger Americans.
Companies and advertisers have adapted strategies amid
changing U.S. demographics by targeting more shopping malls
aimed at Hispanic shoppers.
Although the white population has already declined in
several states like California and Texas, the report underscores
the trend nationwide, said Steve Murdock, former Census director
and a sociologist at Rice University.
"This is increasingly a pervasive diversification ... It's
not a few areas," he said.
Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin
cautioned that the report is only a prediction based on factors
that could change.
"Minority groups are clearly gaining in numbers, but we
can't be certain exactly when we'll become a 'majority minority'
nation," he said. "This gives us a sense of what we might look
like, but we can't be sure. This is a half-century from now."
THE 'OLDEST OLD'
The number of older Americans is expected to more than
Those age 65 and older will rise from 43.1 million in 2012,
or one in seven, to 92 million in 2060, or one in five,
according to the Census Bureau.
"The increase in the number of the 'oldest old' would be
even more dramatic," the agency said in its statement.
Americans age 85 and older will more than triple from 5.9
million to 18.2 million over the same period, it predicted.
"Projections show the older population would continue to be
predominately non-Hispanic white, while younger ages are
increasingly minority," Census wrote.
Earlier this year, births of non-white U.S. babies for the
first time reached more than 51 percent, a trend influenced by
the rise in interracial marriages.
Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center said the Census
findings signal the nation's dramatic division into two main
groups: the older white population and the increasingly diverse
The change in demographics will present challenges to
policymakers. As the population ages, more people will be
dependent on programs like Medicare and Social Security, but
there will be fewer younger workers to pay for these programs.
Lawmakers will have to balance the needs of the different
"These are uncharted waters for this country," Taylor said.
Even as the white population declines, it will still make up
the largest ethnic group, even though whites will no longer hold
the majority. In 2060, there will be about 179 million whites
compared, for example, to 128.8 million Hispanics, Census said.
As for Census' prediction that whites will become the
minority in 2043, Hopkins' Cherlin said, "I'm not convinced
we're going to get there that fast."
Overall, Census said U.S. population growth is expected to
slow more than previously expected, in part due to decreasing
births and immigration. Last month, Pew reported that U.S.
births had fallen to a record low, especially among immigrants.
Murdock, who led the Census Bureau under President George W.
Bush, said that is due in part to the recent recession that ran
from 2007 to 2009. "To what extent that is a temporary or
long-term issue is still unclear," he added.