News Column

Minorities Will Soon Form Backbone of U.S. Workforce

august 13, 2013
construction engineers
Construction engineers (file photo)

A wave of immigration, the aging of non-Hispanic white women beyond childbearing years and a new baby boom are diminishing the proportion of children who are white. Already, half of U.S. children younger than 1 are Hispanic, black, Asian, Native American or of mixed races.

"A lot of people think demographics alone will bring about change and it won't," said Gail Christopher, who heads the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's America Healing project on racial equity. "If attitudes and behaviors don't change, demographics will just mean we'll have a majority population that is low-income, improperly educated, disproportionately incarcerated with greater health disparities."

In 2010, 39.4 percent of black children, 34 percent of Hispanic children and 38 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native children lived in poverty, defined as an annual income of $22,113 that year for a family of four. That compares with about 18 percent of white, non-Hispanic children, according to Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey. Asian children overall fare better, with 13.5 percent living in poverty, the survey said.

The overrepresentation of minority children among the poor is not new. What is new is that minority children will, in the not-too-distant future, form the core of the nation's workforce.

"They're the future of our labor force. They're the future of our economy," said Brookings Institution demographer William Frey. "They're the people who white baby boomers are going to have to depend on for their Social Security, for their Medicare and just for a productive economy to keep all of us going in the future."

Source: Copyright Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)

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