Census: U.S. Becoming More Diverse

Les Christie, CNN, May 14, 2009

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The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday that the minority population reached an estimated 104.6 million–or 34% of the nation’s total population–on July 1, 2008, compared to 31% when the Census was taken in 2000. Nearly one in six residents, or 46.9 million people, are Hispanic, the agency reported.

Even more telling for the future: 44% of children under age 18 and 47% of children under the age of five are now from minority families.

The quickly expanding Latino population is having a healthy impact on the economy, according to Ken Gronbach, author of “The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Growing Demographic Trend.”

“Latinos have saved our country,” he said. “They represent 14% of the population but 25% of the live births. The United States is the only western industrialized nation with a fertility rate above the 2.2% replacement rate.”

Growth of other minority groups is also outpacing that of the majority population. Asians, the second-fastest growing group, increased 2.7% year-over-year to 15.5 million. The African-American population rose 1.3% to 41.1 million.

Minority births, combined with high immigration levels, kept the nation’s population growing dynamically, spurring the economy by adding to consumer demand.

They will also help to prop up the real-estate market once the economy begins to recover, according to Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center/ {snip}

As it ages, the Baby Boom generation, the largest age cohort in U.S. history, will start to sell their castles as they look to downsize their empty nests. But the group that would be expected to buy those houses, Generation X, has about 9 million fewer members.

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Minorities will help take up that slack. They are relatively youthful and looking to house their families. The Hispanic population, for example, posted a median age of 27.7 years in 2008. That compared to 36.8 years for the total U.S. population–which is a year-and-a-half older than the median age in 2000.

The number of 65-year-olds and older is nearing 39 million, or 12.8% of the population, up from 12.4% in 2000. {snip}

Biggest minority

Latinos and other minority workers contribute to keeping the Social Security system solvent, according to Monique Morrissey, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute. The undocumented workers among them often pay more into the Social Security pool than they will take out in benefits.

Morrissey said estimates of deficits in the pool’s finances were reduced last year when a Social Security advisory board’s technical panel revised some unrealistically low assumptions it had made about Latino immigration.

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