How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Census projects that by 2043, US will no longer be white-majority nation

A race and ethnicity map of the Los Angeles area by artist Eric Fischer, based on the 2010 census. Red dots stand for white, blue for black, green for Asian, orange for Latino and yellow for "other." Each dot represents 25 residents.
A race and ethnicity map of the Los Angeles area by artist Eric Fischer, based on the 2010 census. Red dots stand for white, blue for black, green for Asian, orange for Latino and yellow for "other." Each dot represents 25 residents. Eric Fischer

Last spring, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that for the first time in the nation's history, the majority of the babies being born in the United States were children of color, i.e. not non-Latino whites. The tipping point occurred in the summer of 2010.

At the time, it confirmed that in the not-too-distant future, the U.S. would no longer be a white-majority nation. Now the Census Bureau is projecting just when this will happen: 2043.

It's offered similar projections in the past. But this one, based on the 2010 census and covering the period between 2120 and 2060, factors in the slower birthrate in connection with the Great Recession. The nation's total population is now expected to hit the 400 million mark in 2051, several years later than earlier estimates had projected. 

By then, this population will be significantly older and more diverse. Over the next half-century, the non-Latino white majority is expected to give way to a plurality. That means that while this group will remain the largest, it will no longer be the majority. By 2060, people of color are expected to comprise 57 percent of the U.S. population (the non-white population is now 37 percent). The Census anticipates that the Latino and Asian American populations will more than double; by 2060, it expects that nearly one in three Americans will be Latino.

From the Census Bureau, some details of the racial/ethnic breakdown:

  • The non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.
  • Meanwhile, the Hispanic population would more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, up from about one in six today.
  • The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.
  • The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.

The number of Native Americans and Native Alaskans is also projected to increase from 3.9 million to 6.3 million, while the number of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders is expected to almost double, from 706,000 to 1.4 million. 

Also importantly, the number of Americans who identify as biracial or multiracial is expected to more than triple between now and 2060, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million.

Non-Latino whites will cease to be the overall majority in 2043, the Census Bureau projects, but they will make up a majority of the oldest Americans:

Projections show the older population would continue to be predominately non-Hispanic white, while younger people will be increasingly non-white.

Of those age 65 and older in 2060, 56.0 percent are expected to be non-Hispanic white, 21.2 percent Hispanic and 12.5 percent non-Hispanic black.

The share of white non-Latinos under 18 is expected to drop significantly in the meantime, from almost 53 percent today to 33 percent by 2060.

While the overall under-18 population share is expected drop only slightly between now and 2060, the senior population will keep rising as Baby Boomers age. It's projected that in 2056, Americans 65 and over will outnumber teens; by 2060, number of Americans aged 65-plus is expected to have more than doubled, from 43.1 million today to 92 million.

View the Census Bureau's population projections in their entirety here.

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