By Raha Forooz Sabet
University of Miami
When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, racial differences in the United States were almost literally black and white. In the early 1960s, 85 percent of the population was white and 11 percent was black. Less than four percent of the population was Latino and less than six percent was foreign-born.
The biggest change since 1964 has been the growing diversification in America’s racial-ethnic makeup. The growth rate of the black or African-Americans has been slow, rising just two percentage points, from 11 to 13 percent. By contrast, the percentage of foreign-born Americans has more than doubled, so that they too represent 13 percent of the population.
Latinos now comprise 17 percent of the population and are the second largest racial and ethnic group after whites, with a population of about 51 million. This group is projected to triple in size by 2050, accounting for 60 percent of total population growth over a 45-year period.
Asians currently comprise just five percent of the population, but as of 2012 the Asian population was the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group. In 2050, they are projected to comprise nine percent of the total U.S. population.
There are about three million people who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native, while only 0.2 percent of the population identities as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Almost 20 million people identify as “some other race.” And in the first decade of the 21st century alone, the multiracial population grew by 33 percent, from 6.8 million in 2000 to 9 million in 2010.
Non-Hispanic whites are the largest racial and ethnic group in the U.S. However, this group is growing at the slowest rate, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2050 – in less than 40 years — non-Hispanic whites will be a minority, accounting for just 47 percent of the population. Already, 50 percent of children below age one are ethnic and racial minorities, and there are 14 states including New York, New Jersey and Florida, where the majority of births are to minorities.
For Further Information
For further information contact Raha Sabet (graduate student), Department of Educational and Psychological Studies, University of Miami; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perez, Anthony Daniel and Charles Hirschman. 2009. “The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of the US Population: Emerging American Identities,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar., 2009), pp. 1-51.