Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Census: Immigration to drive US population growth by mid-century

New Census Bureau projections calculate that immigration will be the leading driver of population growth in the United States by the middle of this century. Even if net migration remains constant, non-Latino whites could lose majority status by 2046.
New Census Bureau projections calculate that immigration will be the leading driver of population growth in the United States by the middle of this century. Even if net migration remains constant, non-Latino whites could lose majority status by 2046. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Immigration to the United States may not be at an all-time high, but it's still anticipated to be the major driver of population growth by the middle of this century, according to new U.S. Census Bureau projections.

It would be the first time that immigration - as opposed to births on U.S. soil - would play this role since at least 1850, when census data on the countries people were born in was first collected. Depending on the level of migration in coming years, this shift could occur between 2027 and 2038. But inbound migration wouldn't be the only factor. Declining fertility in the U.S. is also a big part of the equation. From the census report:

"Our nation has had higher immigration rates in the past, particularly during the great waves of the late 19th and early 20th centuries," said Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau's senior adviser. "This projected milestone reflects the mix of our nation's declining fertility rates, the aging of the baby boomer population and continued immigration."

The Census Bureau calculated three projections based on different migration levels. In one factoring in high net migration, the nation's non-white population would go from 37 percent of the total population in 2012 to 58.8 percent in 2060. A projection with a milder increase in migration would have the non-white population reaching 55.9 of the total by then.

It's projected that even if net migration remains constant, non-Latino whites would lose their majority status by 2046, and as early as 2041 if migration increases. 

This shift would happen sooner among minors: In all of the projections, the under-18 population is projected to become "majority-minority" by either 2018 or 2019.

As for working-age Americans, this population would be expected to shift to majority non-white between 2036 and 2042. Meanwhile, if net migration remains constant, the over-65 population would outnumber the under-18 population by 2038.

The overall U.S. population is expected to hit 400 million by 2044, earlier than the 2051 date calculated in a December 2012 projection. 

See the full census report here.

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