(Photo by Bridget Coila)

(Photo by Bridget Coila)

The United States hit an important benchmark in 2011 that many Americans might have missed. That was the first year more minority babies were born than white babies.


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It was a sign of things to come. In less than 30 years, whites will no longer be the racial majority in the United States.

“This is a huge demographic transformation,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution and author of the book Diversity Explosion. “In 2044, most of the United States, more than half of the population, will be something other than white.”

Although whites will still be the largest single racial group in 2044, no single group will actually be a majority. There has been a steady decline in the white population as the so-called Baby Boomers (people born between 1945 and 1964) have aged and entered retirement. They are also beginning to die off.

“In a few years, it’s going to be the norm that there will be more white deaths than white births every year as far as you can project,” Frey said.


White 63%
Hispanic 17%
Black 12%
Asian 5%
Other 3%

This emerging ‘majority minority’ will take their place. The number of Asian and Hispanic minorities in the U.S. is expected to double by 2050. The multiracial population is expected to quadruple by then, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

These populations are growing, not due to immigration, but primarily because America’s minority populations are young and of child-bearing age.

The changing demographics will also be evident in the workplace. The whitest part of the labor force right now is people in their late forties, fifties and early sixties. As they retire, more minorities will move in to take their place.

That’s good news, according to Frey, who points out that while countries like Japan, Italy and Germany are facing a declining labor-force age population and a declining population overall, the United States won’t have that problem because of the fast growth in its young minority populations, particularly Hispanics and Asians.

Source: National Historical Geographic Information System, University of Minnesota   Graphic: Courtesy of The Washington Post

This new future reality presents the United States with the challenge of making sure these minority populations–which represent America’s future–are in schools that are well-equipped to prepare these children to enter the middle class via well-paying jobs once they grow up. The alternative, says Frey, is a larger gap between rich and poor.

“Race has been a very important feature in our society, sometimes in negative ways in the past,” Frey said. “People are now going to come to see that our diverse population is going to be a positive, especially in a global economy where it’s important for us to be able to connect with other parts of the world. We have a leg up on other countries, assuming we’re able to take advantage of it.”