Updated Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 07:17 AM
The term “minority,” at least as used to describe racial and ethnic groups in the United States, may need to be retired or rethought soon: By the end of this decade, according to Census Bureau projections released Wednesday, no single racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority of children younger than 18. And in about three decades, no single group will constitute a majority of the country as a whole.
As the United States grows more diverse, the Census Bureau reported, it is becoming a “plurality nation.”
“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,” the bureau’s acting director, Thomas Mesenbourg, said.
The new projections — the first set based on the 2010 Census — paint a picture of a nation whose post-recession population is growing more slowly than was previously anticipated, where the elderly are expected to make up a growing share of the populace and that is rapidly becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.
The nation’s total population is not expected to hit 400 million until 2051, which is 12 years later than the bureau had previously projected, said Jennifer Ortman, a demographer with the Census Bureau. The prediction that the nation’s population will grow more slowly reflects the bureau’s projections that there will be fewer births and fewer immigrants coming to the United States, based on recent trends.
The diversity of the nation’s children is increasing even faster than was previously expected, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “When the 2020 census comes around, we’re going to have a majority-minority child population,” he said.
The Census Bureau expects that moment to come in 2018, several years earlier than it had previously predicted.
The bureau predicts that by 2043 — a year later than it previously projected — there will be no single majority group in the country as a whole, as the share of non-Hispanic whites falls below 50 percent.
The Hispanic population is expected to more than double during that time, to 128.8 million in 2060 from 53.3 million now. In 2060 nearly one in three residents will be Hispanic, up from about one in six now. (People who identify themselves as Hispanic may be any race.)
The black population is expected to increase to 61.8 million from 41.2 million over the same period, with its share of the population rising slightly. And the Asian population is expected to double, to 34.4 million in 2060 from 15.9 million now, with its share of the population climbing to 8.1 percent from 5.1 percent.