Today’s Census report: Non-Hispanic whites are only cohort that’s shrinking

By David Pendered

The nation’s population is becoming older and more diverse, according to a Census report released Thursday. The only cohort that reported more deaths than births from July 2016 to July 2017 was non-Hispanic whites. The report adds fuel to the ongoing debate over President Trump’s immigration policy.

census, youngest counties

The nation’s residents are becoming older, though metro Atlanta continues to have a relatively youthful population. Credit: Census

Along with shrinking in numbers, the non-Hispanic whites category also had the highest median ages, compared to the other race groups, the Census reported with this observation:

  • “The non-Hispanic white alone population is projectedto continue aging and declining, with one-third of children projected to be non-Hispanic white alone by 2060, as compared to over one-half projected to be older adults.”

The median age of non-Hispanic whites, and white alone-or-in-combination with another race, was 43.5 years. The median age of all other races combined was 39.2 years, the Census reported.

Trump has weighed into the immigration issue with increased security at the southern border and calls for attracting more immigrants from certain countries.

Along with its political implications, the nation’s immigration policy affects the nature of the country’s workforce, as Shaun Donovan, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Tuesday at a housing conference convened by an affiliate of Harvard University:

  • “We are at risk, and immigration is a piece of this. We’re not going to have the workers we need to grow our economy. We’re at under 4 percent unemployment.”

A Census report released March 13 supports Donovan’s point. This report didn’t mention the labor force per se, but did observe that by 2030, the elderly are expected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Not all of those older folks are likely to continue with full-time work.

Here are a few highlights from the Census report:

The nation’s diversity is growing most quickly in the age groups of 16 years through 64 years, according to the latest Census report. Credit: Census

  • “The Hispanic population increased 2.1 percent to 58.9 million. … The Hispanic population made up 18.1 percent of the nation’s total population in 2017, primarily due to natural increase (the difference between births and deaths).
  • “The Asian population increased 3.1 percent to 22.2 million. … Asians were the fastest-growing racial group in the nation. Their increase is primarily due to net migration.
  • “The non-Hispanic white alone group was the only race group to experience population decline between 2016 and 2017 (-0.02 percent). Of all the alone-or-in-combination race groups, the white alone-or-in-combination group grew the slowest (0.5 percent).
  • “[A] majority of counties in the country continued to grow older. The nation as a whole experienced a median age increase from 37.2 years to 38.0 years during the period 2010 to 2017. This continued aging of the country is consistent with the projected changesto the nation’s population through 2060.”

This nugget is from the March 13 report:

  • “The non-Hispanic White-alone population is projected to shrink over the coming decades, from 199 million in 2020 to 179 million in 2060 — even as the U.S. population continues to grow. Their decline is driven by falling birth rates and a rising number of deaths over time among non-Hispanic Whites as that population ages. In comparison, the White-alone population, regardless of Hispanic origin, is projected to grow from about 253 million to 275 million over the same period.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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