For the first time, as of 2011, more than half of the children under age 1 in the U.S. were minorities, the newest benchmark illustrating the widening age gap between mostly white, older Americans and fast-growing, younger minority populations, particularly Hispanics.
Minorities under age 1 eclipsed 50 percent (50.4 percent), from a 49.5 percent level recorded by the 2010 census.
"The growth in minority populations is a national phenomenon," said Steve Murdock, director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University. "That is different from a couple of decades ago, when we would have seen much more of it in Texas and California and in states with significant Hispanic populations."
In Texas, nearly 7 in 10 people under age 1 were minorities as of July 2011, a slight increase from 2010, according to new census estimates out today. The data, covering the period from April 2010 to July 2011, are the first set of population estimates by race, Hispanic origin, age and sex since the decennial census. The Census Bureau said it defines a minority as anyone who is not single-race white.
Demographers have said for some time now that they expect racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury. Texas became a majority-minority state in 2004, and in 2010, Hispanics accounted for 65 percent of the state's growth since 2000.
According to today's census data, Hispanics remained the nation's largest minority group in 2011, at 52 million. They also were the fastest growing; their numbers increased 3.1 percent since 2010, and Hispanics now constitute 16.7 percent of the U.S. population.
African-Americans were the second largest minority group, at 43.9 million. At 18.2 million, Asians were the second fastest-growing minority group, with a 3 percent increase since 2010.
The Census Bureau said there were 114 million minorities in 2011, or 36.6 percent of the nation's population. In 2010, that figure stood at 36.1 percent.
The newest census estimates expand on data released last month that put the Austin metro area's surging population at 1.78 million, an increase of more than 67,230 people since the 2010 census. Travis County had the majority of that gain, with 38,858.
In the Austin metro area, which also includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays and Williamson counties, Hispanics (42 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (39.8) accounted for the overwhelming majority of the region's population increase for the 15-month period after the 2010 census. African American and Asian populations also increased.
"That's a continuation of the trend we saw in the 2000s," said Ryan Robinson, demographer for the City of Austin.
Non-Hispanic whites remained the majority in the metro area, accounting for 54.3 percent of the population in 2011, compared with 54.9 percent in 2010.
In Travis County, the non-Hispanic white percentage of the population decreased, from 50.7 to 50.3.
If those trends continue, Travis County could become a majority-minority county within the next two or three years, Robinson said.
Murdock, a former Census Bureau director, said that trends in Travis County are better seen over a longer sweep of time, noting that in 2000, Travis County was 56 percent Anglo and 28 percent Hispanic. In 2000, Asians accounted for about 4.4 percent of the county's population; they now account for about 5.8 percent, he said.
Among other highlights from today's census estimates:
-- The nation's population younger than age 5 was 49.7 percent minority in 2011, up from 49 percent in 2010.
-- In the Austin metro area, Hispanics accounted for 67 percent of the increase among children under age 5, from April 2010 to July 2011. They accounted for 46 percent of the population under age 5 in the metro area; non-Hispanic whites accounted for 39 percent.
"Our young population is becoming overwhelmingly Hispanic," Robinson said. "That's significant, and it points to educational and social service needs. It points to a very different future than what we've had in the past."
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