Latinos, Asians are expected to fuel U.S. population growth Census Bureau predicts rise in retirees as well

March 14, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - Latinos and Asians will account for more than half the growth in the U.S. population every year for the next half-century and beyond, the U.S. Census Bureau predicted yesterday.

The other fast-rising group is Americans aged 50 or more, growing because the huge baby boom generation is beginning to turn gray.

"If you want to sell things and go where the growth is, about half your market will be people in their 50s, and the other half will be the Hispanic and Asian populations," said Gregory Spencer, a Census Bureau demographer.

These growth patterns will produce a dramatic change in the ethnic portrait of America: The population of non-Latino whites, now three-quarters of all Americans, will shrink to a bare majority by 2050.

The United States' total population, 262.8 million last July 1, will increase to 393.9 million by 2050, according to the Census Bureau's forecast. Current growth is modest, less than 1 percent a year, the lowest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is projected to slow even more at the turn of the century, and after 2025, is expected to drop to the lowest rates ever recorded since the census began in 1790.

The basic expansion in the U.S. population will be produced by the Latino and Asian populations.

U.S. population now is 73.6 percent white, 12 percent black, 10.2 percent Latino, 3.3 percent Asian and 0.7 percent American Indian. The official forecast issued yesterday predicts that in 2050, the United States will be 52.8 percent white, 24.5 percent Latino, 13.6 percent black, 8.2 percent Asian and 0.9 percent American Indian.

The government forecasts, revised every two years, depend on estimates of future birthrates and immigration trends. The Census Bureau expects immigration of 820,000 a year, including about 225,000 undocumented people.

The Latino population is now growing at the rate of 900,000 a year, including net immigration of 350,000. The category of Asian and Pacific Islanders is increasing at 380,000 a year, including 235,000 immigrants.

Even without immigration, the Latino population would be growing faster than the white non-Latino population, because it is younger and has a higher fertility rate. Latinos will become the United States' largest minority group in 2009, the Census Bureau predicts, surpassing the number of blacks.

The retired population, those 65 and over, will grow slowly for the next 15 years, but start to surge in 2010, when the first of the hordes of baby boomers the 76 million people born in the years 1946 through 1964 reach 65.

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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