By 2060, the United States is expected to become a plurality with no race or ethnicity claiming a majority; by then, whites will have dropped to just 43 percent of the population, according to projections released on Wednesday by the Census Bureau.
The report supports earlier forecasts by the bureau, as well as other organizations such as the Pew Research Center, that the country’s demographics are in the midst of a historical shift poised to transform the U.S. into a true melting pot.
Overall, the nation’s total population will grow slower than previously estimated due to lower immigration and fertility changes, said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institute.
Undoubtedly, the Great Recession has stumped emigration into the U.S. It was certainly the case for many arriving legally and illegally from Mexico. “The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and broader economic conditions in Mexico,” the authors of a 2012 study by the Pew Hispanic Center wrote.
Americans also had fewer children each year since the financial meltdown, with births falling to a 12-year low in 2011. Between 2007 and 2010, the birth rate nudged down 8 percent.
(RELATED: U.S. Birth Rate Hits Record Low)
The nation’s coming sweeping demographic changes are clear in two areas: children and those of working age, between 18 and 64.
The first set of projections, based on the 2010 Census, indicate that no single race or ethnicity is projected to be the majority by 2019 among those who are 18 or younger. “We’re talking about four-or-five years earlier,” Frey said, in reference to that age group.
The nation is projected to reach that threshold by 2043, when whites, who are expected to remain the largest single group, will lose their majority status.
The oncoming changes will have consequences for years to come, as population changes continues to shape the landscape of the nation’s public schools, electorate, and the workforce. As the white-working age population is projected to decline, Frey said, the minority workforce is projected to grow, particularly among Hispanics.
Providing educational opportunities, technical training, and post-secondary education to the country’s largest minority groups is of “national concern.”
“Some of the issues of health care and social security go hand-in-hand with making sure that we have a thriving economy,” Frey said.
At least one study indicated that if educational gaps among minorities remained at 2005 levels, the personal income per capita will see a 2-percent decline between 2000 and 2020, potentially decreasing the nation’s tax base.
Census projections said both the Hispanic and Asian populations are expected to more than double between now and 2060.
Hispanics are projected to grow from 53.3 million today to 128.8 million--or one in every three people--by 2060. The Asian-American population is expected to grow from 15.9 million to 34.4 million in the same period, comprising 8.2 percent of the total population by 2060.
African-Americans are expected to make modest gains, growing from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period and making up 14.7 percent of the U.S. population by 2060.
The increasingly diverse population is likely to come to fruition at the same time that the nation grows older. The 65 and older population is projected to more than double, from 43.1 million to 92 million in 2060. At that time, seniors will constitute more than one in five of the population, up from one in seven in 2012, and they are expected to surpass the 18-and-younger generation for the first time by 2056.
The projections also confirm the oft-discussed notion that the older population will continue to stay white as America’s youth become more diverse. More than half--56 percent--of the 65 and older population in 2060 is expected to be non-Hispanic white. In contrast, barely a third--32.9 percent--of the 18 and younger population will be non-Hispanic white.
In other words, as the majority of those over 65 remains white, more than two-thirds of those making up the youth population will be people of color.