The nation will be more racially and ethnically diverse, as well as much older, by midcentury, according to projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Minorities, now roughly one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become the majority in 2042, with the nation projected to be 54 percent minority in 2050. By 2023, minorities will comprise more than half of all children.
In 2030, when all of the baby boomers will be 65 and older, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be 65 and older. This age group is projected to increase to 88.5 million in 2050, more than doubling the number in 2008 (38.7 million).
Similarly, the 85 and older population is expected to more than triple, from 5.4 million to 19 million between 2008 and 2050.
By 2050, the minority population -- everyone except for non-Hispanic, single-race whites -- is projected to be 235.7 million out of a total U.S. population of 439 million. The nation is projected to reach the 400 million population milestone in 2039.
The non-Hispanic, single-race white population is projected to be only slightly larger in 2050 (203.3 million) than in 2008 (199.8 million). In fact, this group is projected to lose population in the 2030s and 2040s and comprise 46 percent of the total population in 2050, down from 66 percent in 2008.
Meanwhile, the Hispanic population is projected to nearly triple, from 46.7 million to 132.8 million during the 2008-2050 period. Its share of the nation's total population is projected to double, from 15 percent to 30 percent. Thus, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic.
The black population is projected to increase from 41.1 million, or 14 percent of the population in 2008, to 65.7 million, or 15 percent in 2050.
The Asian population is projected to climb from 15.5 million to 40.6 million. Its share of the nation's population is expected to rise from 5.1 percent to 9.2 percent.
Among the remaining race groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives are projected to rise from 4.9 million to 8.6 million (or from 1.6 to 2 percent of the total population). The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population is expected to more than double, from 1.1 million to 2.6 million. The number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races is projected to more than triple, from 5.2 million to 16.2 million.
The federal government treats Hispanic origin and race as separate and distinct concepts. In surveys and censuses, separate questions are asked on Hispanic origin and race. The question on Hispanic origin asks respondents if they are Spanish, Hispanic or Latino. Starting with Census 2000, the question on race asked respondents to report the race or races they consider themselves to be. Thus, Hispanics may be of any race. (See U.S. Census Bureau Guidance on the Presentation and Comparison of Race and Hispanic Origin Data.)
The original race data from Census 2000 are modified to eliminate the "some other race" category. This modification is used for all Census Bureau projections products and is explained in the document titled "Modified Race Data Summary File Technical Documentation and ASCII Layout" that can be found on the Census Bureau Web site at <http://www.census.gov/popest/archives/files/MRSF-01-US1.html>
The projections for the resident population of the United States are available by single year of age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. They are based on Census 2000 results and assumptions about future childbearing, mortality and net international migration.