Whites to lose majority status by 2043, the census projects

Crowds such as this one in New York City shows the diversity of the U.S. population.
(Andrew Gombert / EPA)

White people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2043 as the United States will for the first time become a majority of minority groups, the Census Bureau projects.

In its first set of projections based on 2010 Census, officials said the U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060. The nation is also expected to grow at a slower pace in coming decades. The nation’s population, about 315 million in September, is expected to cross the 400-million threshold in 2051, hitting 420.3 million in 2060.

“The next half century marks key points in continuing trends -- the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” Thomas L. Mesenbourg, acting director of the bureau, said in a prepared statement.


Demographers have been expecting that the proportion of the white population to decrease over time. Whites are expected to remain the largest single group but no longer constitute a majority by 2043, according to the census.

Minorities, now about 37% of the U.S. population, will grow to become 57% of the population by 2060. Minorities are defined as all other groups than single-race, non-Latinos. The total minority population would more than double, from 116.2 million to 241.3 million by 2060.

According to the census, the non-Latino white population is projected to peak in 2024 at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million this year. Unlike other racial or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.

While the number of whites is falling, other groups with higher birthrates are increasing, according to the projections released Wednesday. Latinos would more than double, from 53.3 million this year to 128.8 million in 2060. By the end of the projection period, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Latino, up from about one in six today.

Also increasing will be the other minority groups, the Census said. The black population is projected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million by 2060. The share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1% this year to 14.7%. The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million this year to 34.4 million in 2060, while its share of the nation’s total population would climb from 5.1% to 8.2%.

Along with racial and ethnic composition, the projections show an older nation which carries policy implications as congressional Republicans and Democrats spar over the fiscal cliff, the collection of spending cuts and the expiration of tax cuts due at the end of the month. Republicans have called for more cuts in healthcare-related spending and in other entitlement programs while Democrats are pushing for higher tax rates on the rich.

The population of those at least 65 years old is expected to more than double between now and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today, according to the Bureau.

In effect, there will be more elderly, who use more of the healthcare system, to be supported by a shrinking proportion of the working-age population, those 18 to 64 years old.

The number of the working-age population is expected to increase by 42 million between this year and 2060, from 197 million to 239 million, but the share will fall from 62.7% to 56.9%, according to projections.


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