Friday, June 14, 2013

Further Thoughts on Yesterday's Census Bureau Population Estimates

On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau released American population estimates for the year running from mid-2011 to mid-2012.

For the most part, there were two major headlines that emerged from the release of this data.  The first was that the child population under 5 years of age is nearing minority-majority status.  Per the Census Bureau, the under-5 child population stood at 49.9% minority by mid-2012.

During this year or next, the under-5 U.S. population will likely reach the tipping point and become minority-majority. 

The other headline-making information was the data showing that, from mid-2011 to mid-2012, the non-Hispanic white population experienced natural decline, a situation in which, among non-Hispanic whites, deaths exceeded births.  According to the Census Bureau, in the year that ended in mid-2012, there were around 12,000 more non-Hispanic white deaths than births.

The non-Hispanic white population did not shrink overall during that year, however.  Due to immigration, the addition of non-Hispanic white immigrants provided a slight uptick in the total non-Hispanic white population.

But a year of natural decline in the total non-Hispanic white population should be understood as a significant milestone in the American journey, particularly the story of the peopling of the United States.

Regarding the matter of natural decline, however, it is important to remember that, in the overall U.S. population, births still exceed deaths by a significant margin, thanks to racial and ethnic minorities.

The chart above illustrates how, for over 20 years, annual U.S. deaths have run exceeded 2 million while annual U.S. births have exceeded 3.8 million each year.  More specifically, in 2011, around 2.5 million people died in America, the vast majority being non-Hispanic whites.  But in 2011, despite falling birth rates, there were 3.9 million births, an excess of births over deaths greater than 50%.  In 2011, around half of the children born in the U.S. were members of one or more minority groups.

America's continuing and fairly robust natural increase is predicated of the natural increases among minorities.  American diversity, fueled significantly by 40 years of increased immigration, now resides at the core of American home-grown population growth.

Christian Science Monitor Editorial: The New American "We"

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