The latest data from the Census Bureau show that America's demographic look continues to change – becoming older, less white and more racially diverse. Like many Census releases, Thursday's data represent a mountain of facts and figures. So, after a dive into the numbers, U.S. News has pulled out a few key takeaways.
Asians – or maybe Hispanics – are the fastest growing population.
Asians are the fastest-growing minority group in the U.S. But then again, so are Hispanics, depending on how you look at it.
The new census data show that Asians experienced the fastest population growth from 2011 to 2012, growing by 530,000 people during that time – a jump of 2.2 percent. Still, in terms of raw numbers, Hispanics (an ethnic group that can overlap with multiple races) by far grew the fastest, adding 1.1 million people over the course of that year. In fact, in terms of raw numbers, blacks and African Americans also grew more quickly than Asians.
These trends are long-standing. According to the Census Bureau, Asians have had the fastest rate of population growth every year since 2000, while Hispanics' numbers have also increased the most every year.
White birth rates are remarkably slow.
While minority populations posted strong growth, the population of non-Hispanic whites would have shrunk were it not for immigration, which added 188,000 to offset a decline of 12,400 (that is, there were 12,400 more deaths than births among non-Hispanic whites). That's a trend not seen in any other large racial or ethnic group.
Compare that to Hispanics, who saw over 1 million births over the course of the year studied – nine times as many births as deaths between 2011 and 2012. The "natural increase" among that population (that is, births minus deaths) was nearly 800,000.
Unlike all other minority populations listed, Asians are the only ones whose growth was driven primarily by immigration. Sixty percent of all growth for the population of people who identify as Asian came from immigration. Only 22 percent of new blacks or African Americans and 24 percent of Hispanic population growth came from immigration.
Meanwhile, the multiracial population grew almost entirely due to births. Only around 7 percent of the 232,000 new Americans of two or more races came from immigration.
...meaning that diversity among our children is growing.
A majority of children under 2 are minorities, according to the data, and 49.9 percent of all children under five are minorities. That trend changes dramatically as you look at older populations.
Older people tend to be much whiter. Among all single-year age groups of people 80 and older, non-Hispanic whites make up over 80 percent of the population. The median age among non-Hispanic whites is 42.6 years old, compared to 35.7 for Asians, 32.5 for blacks and African-Americans, 27.8 for Hispanics. The multiracial population is remarkably young, with a median age of 19.4.
We're getting grayer.
No surprise here – as baby boomers move into their sixties, its pulling the national median age upward. The U.S. median age climbed from 37.3 in 2011 to 37.5 in 2012.
Still, this is not a nationwide trend. Six states watched their median ages fall, with North Dakota leading the pack. Median age in the Peace Garden State fell by half a year, from 36.6 to 36.1. Meanwhile, Utah currently has the youngest population, with a median age of 30. Maine, meanwhile, is at the upper end of the spectrum, with a median age of 43.5.
North Dakota is an outlier.
Not only is it getting younger, it's also majority male – a distinction that only nine other states share – and saw the fastest-growing Hispanic population from 2011 to 2012, with a population change of over 15.5 percent.
Like the state's remarkably low unemployment rate (3.3 percent, as of April), these trend-bucking numbers are in part due to the oil and gas boom in the western part of the state, which has sent new workers flocking to North Dakota.
"I cannot drive across the city of Bismarck without hearing at least two radio ads on the radio for open jobs. I can't drive down the road without seeing signs saying, 'Now hiring, all positions,'" says Kevin Iverson, manager of the state Census office. "That's just the environment we're in."
While that boom has also brought in some Hispanic workers, Iverson also points out that it's easy for a small Hispanic population to post fast percentage growth. While that population added 15 percent over the course of a year, that added up to only 17,230 Hispanics statewide in 2012.