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Hispanics, Asians continue population growth

Hispanics and Asians fueled a surge in the U.S. population between 2000 and 2003.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Explosive growth among Hispanics and Asians fueled a surge in the U.S. population between 2000 and 2003 as the national count pushed closer to 300 million.

Hispanics, the nation’s largest minority group, rose 13 percent between April 2000 and July 2003 to 39.9 million, according to Census Bureau figures released Monday.

That far outpaced the 3 percent increase in the American populace during the same time, to 290.8 million.

"The whole United States"
Asians were the next-fastest-growing among the large minority groups, up 12.6 percent to 11.9 million, while the black population rose nearly 4 percent to 37 million.

About 4.3 million people listed themselves as of more than one race, up 10.5 percent from 2000.

The population of Hispanics and, to a lesser extent, Asians, rose in nearly every state over the 1990s, due in large part to immigration. The latest data appear to show a continued steady flow of immigrants into America in spite of the recession and the effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said John Logan, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Albany.

“This is the story of the whole United States now,” Logan said. “It’s not just a New York or Los Angeles phenomenon.”

Whites remain the single largest group at 197 million, up just 1 percent between 2000 and 2003. That number refers to those U.S. residents who are not of Hispanic ethnicity and who selected only white as their race.

“Non-Hispanic white” is what would generally be considered the majority group in the U.S. population, though they are not officially designated as such.

Over two-thirds of U.S. residents are white. Bureau projections released earlier this year showed that whites and minority groups overall would be roughly equal in size by 2050.

The youthfulness of minorities and the aging of the white population overall provides further evidence suggesting the nation’s demographic future.

For instance, about 34 percent of the nation’s Hispanics are younger than 18, compared to just 22 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Fifteen percent of whites are 65 or over, a rate three times as high as for Hispanics.

Voting impact anticipated
The significance could be felt on voter registration rolls as more Hispanics become eligible to vote. Historically, Hispanics are registered at much lower rates than whites and blacks.

The expected continued influx of younger Hispanic and Asian immigrants could also replenish the U.S. labor force as the massive baby-boom generation approaches retirement age, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Looked at another way, the median age of whites is nearly 40. It is 34 for Asians, 31 for blacks, and 27 for Hispanics.

The median age for multiracial Americans is 20 — reflecting the relative newness of the category, said John Haaga, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a private research group in Washington.

The option to select more than one race on a census form was first given in 2000.

The baby boom generation grew up in a time when interracial marriage became more socially acceptable, and people being reported as multiracial now are largely the children of baby boomers who married outside their races, Haaga said.

The Census Bureau counts “Hispanic” or “Latino” as an ethnicity rather than a race, so Hispanics can be of any race, including white.

Besides immigration, the Hispanic-American population continues to grow because Latinos have a higher birth rate than other groups. Most immigrants to the United States tend to arrive in their 20s, when many people have kids.