Sat, May 03, 2008 - Page 9 News List

Kids are changing the color of America

The US is becoming more diverse, and in less than 50 years minorities are expected to make up the majority of the nation’s population

By Sam Roberts  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

ILLUSTRATION: MOUNTAIN PEOPLE

Since 2000, ethnic minorities have become a majority of children under 15 in two of the US’ fastest-growing states, Florida and Nevada, with Georgia, Maryland and New York poised to follow, census data released on Wednesday showed.

Hawaii was the only state where the share of non-Hispanic white children rose.

The shift was even more pronounced among children under five, already nearly a majority nationally. Last year, New York became the 12th state where they constitute a majority, with New Jersey poised to be the 13th.

Overall, Hispanics continued to grow faster than any other group, surpassing 15 percent of the nation’s population last year for the first time, the Census Bureau said.

From 2006 to last year, the US Census Bureau said, the Hispanic population grew by 3.3 percent, compared with 2.9 percent for Asians, 1.3 percent for blacks and 0.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

But since the decade began, the number of Asians increased even faster than Hispanics in 14 states, generally those with large Hispanic populations, including Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

EVOLVING PROFILE

Ethnic minorities now account for more than one in three Americans.

The latest estimates dramatize the breadth of the nation’s growing diversity, even as nearly one-third of the people whom the census classifies as members of those minorities live in California and Texas. (Texas has overtaken California as the biggest gainer of Hispanic residents.)

Those estimates also concur with projections that minorities will constitute a majority of the nation’s population by 2050.

America’s evolving profile signifies potentially profound changes in the electorate, both in the ranks of ethnic minorities of voting age (since 2000, the white share dropped by 7 percentage points in Nevada and 5 points in California) and also in wide disparities in where people are growing older.

From July 1, 2006, to July 1 last year, the proportion of Americans 65 and older increased to 13 percent, from 12 percent.

At the other end of the age spectrum, as a result of migration and immigration to places with more plentiful employment and housing, the number of children up to 15 years old declined in 31 states since 2000 — led by New York, which lost 326,000. Their ranks shrank by more than 10 percent in Louisiana, North Dakota and Vermont.

“While all parts of America are aging, we are experiencing a selective ‘younging’ in this country, which will affect everything from schools and labor-force needs to political agendas in the near term,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

HISPANIC INFLUENCE

In Arizona and Nevada, the influx and birth of Hispanics has helped increase the total number of children by more than 20 percent since the decade began.

In the same period, the share of white non-Hispanic children in Nevada declined to 44 percent, from nearly 54 percent, the most of any state.

The growth of both Hispanics and Asian-Americans was fueled by immigration and higher fertility. While about 15 percent more births than deaths were recorded among whites since 2000, more than eight times as many Hispanics, four times as many Asians and twice as many blacks were born than died.

SOUTHERN MIGRATION

New York, which ranked fourth among the highest gainers of blacks in the 1990s, has now recorded three successive years of black population losses. Similar losses were registered in Michigan, another magnet for blacks during the Great Migration in the 20th century.

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