March 24, 2011 / 5:52 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. Hispanic population tops 50 million

Demonstrators wave Mexican and the United States flags and cheer at a planned protest near downtown San Diego, California May 1, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Hispanic population passed the 50 million mark for the first time and Latinos accounted more than half of U.S. population growth in the last decade, the Census Bureau said on Thursday.

The Census Bureau put the Latino count at 50.5 million or 16.3 percent of the U.S. population. In 2000, Hispanics accounted for 12.5 percent of Americans.

The new numbers were part of a wealth of data released by the bureau, including ethnicity and geographical figures.

Growth in the Hispanic population accounted for more than half of American population growth between 2000 and 2010, the data shows. The Census Bureau said that it had not yet determined if the increases were caused by immigration or births.

The Asian American population grew by almost 43 percent, and now accounts for 4.8 percent of the U.S. population. African American numbers grew slightly to 12.6 percent of the population.

The white population of the United States fell to 72.4 percent in 2010 from 75.1 percent ten years ago.

Over nine million Americans identify themselves as being multiracial.

Census Bureau analysts said that 46.5 percent of all children under the age of 18 are minorities, an indication of how the demographics of the United States are changing.

The overall population of the United States was 308 million people, a figure the agency announced at the end of last year.

Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Greg McCune

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