US minority population now exceeds 100 million.
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Sat May 19 14:49:09 UTC 2007
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Saturday, May 19, 2007
Posted on Fri, May. 18, 2007
Demography takes spotlight in politics, policy FANNIE FLONO Presidential
candidate Barack Obama has got to love this. His home state of Illinois is
demographically a microcosm of the country as a whole. So says a Census
Bureau analysis released this week. The numbers highlight the nation's
booming minority population, which for the first time has reached
100.7million. That's about
2.4 million more than in 2005. But the report also takes stock of what the
demographic landscape is from state to state and for the nation as a whole.
Illinois residents, who elected Obama to the U.S. Senate, today stand as an
empirical barometer for the rest of the nation. That will probably bring
smiles to the lips of his campaign strategists. According to the Associated
Press, Illinois more closely than any other state matches the nation on a
number of factors, including education level, kinds of businesses,
percentage of immigrants, and yes, racial mix.
*Population and policy*
The coloring of America has been happening for a while, so most of these
Census Bureau findings are hardly a surprise. The bureau director puts it in
fitting perspective: "There are more minorities in this country today than
there were people in the United States in 1910. In fact, the minority
population in the U.S. is larger than the total population of all but 11
countries."But the demographic changes do provide fodder for substantial
reflection and planning. Consider:
*• *Four states -- Hawaii, New Mexico, California and Texas -- plus the
District of Columbia now have more people of color than whites.
*• *Hispanics account for the largest growth among minorities over the year.
But other groups grew as well. The Hispanic population grew by 3.4 percent,
Asians by 3.2 percent, African Americans by 1.3 percent, Native Americans by
1 percent, and Pacific Islanders by 1.7 percent. Hispanics are the largest
minority group at 44.3 million, followed by blacks at 40 million.
*• *More than 20 percent of children in the United States either are
foreign-born or have a parent who was born abroad, and nearly half the
children under age 5 are Hispanic, black or Asian.
*• *The non-Hispanic white population, now at 66 percent, accounted for less
than a fifth of the population growth. It is also older as a group than the
nation's population as a whole -- 40.5 versus 36.4 years old. About 80
percent of Americans over 60 are non-Hispanic whites.
The numbers highlight clear policy implications. An investment in educating
well the swelling minority population will benefit everyone. More of them
will be in the workforce, and more will be needed for jobs that require more
skill and technological expertise. With increasing numbers of older
Americans, better medical care, social services and retirement benefits are
While news coverage on minorities has focused on illegal immigrants, the
Census notes the impact of higher birthrates and legal immigrants. Both are
changing the landscape.
*Growing, growing, growing*
Those immigrants come from all over the world, not just Latin America.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools offer a window into the phenomenon.
Ninety-seven languages are spoken by students in CMS, 152 countries are
represented and more than 10,000 students are enrolled in the English as a
Second Language program.
Between 2000 and 2006, North Carolina saw its minority population grow to
32.1 percent and its non-Hispanic white population drop from 70.3 percent to
The state's Hispanic population grew faster than any other group -- by about
42,000 people from 2005 to 2006 -- the first time since the 2000 Census that
more than 40,000 Hispanics have been added in a single year. But there were
also increases in the number of Asians and African Americans. And like
Illinois, North Carolina mirrors the nation on many demographic factors.
What that portends for John Edwards, North Carolina's former U.S. senator,
who also has high hopes for the country's highest office, I can't say.
Feelings here are mixed about his candidacy. Yet, there's little doubt these
demographic shifts will play a prominent role in presidential politics.
They'll also play a big role in local, state and national policy-making. And
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