TIME Demography

U.S. Steps Closer to a Future Where Minorities Are the Majority

Census finds the country's minority population has risen to 37.9%

Minority births in the U.S. are far outpacing deaths as the white population remains all but stagnant, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday, driving the country closer to the point at which minorities outnumber whites.

The country’s minority population increased from 32.9% of U.S. residents in 2004 to 37.9% in 2014, according to the Census, and four states — Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas — along with Washington, D.C., are now majority-minority. Nevada, which has 48.5% minority population, is likely next.

Non-Hispanic deaths outpaced births in 2014 for a third year in a row, something University of New Hampshire demographer Ken Johnson says has never happened before in the U.S.

“We expected to see non-Hispanic white natural decrease in the future, but it wasn’t expected to start for another decade or so,” Johnson says, adding that the recession and low fertility rates have contributed to the dip. “The white population is considerably older than any other part of the population. This means it has higher mortality. Fewer women are in their prime child-bearing years.”

The slowdown in white population increases is coupled with minority births that are outpacing deaths by three to one. An estimated 95% of the country’s population gain – a 2,360,000 increase – came from minorities last year, while whites made up almost 80% of deaths. However, the non-Hispanic white population did see a bump thanks to 155,000 immigrants, mostly from Europe. The population for whites grew by just 94,000.

“Ironically, non-Hispanic whites are now more dependent on immigration for population increase than any other group,” Johnson says.

Demographers predict that the U.S. will be majority-minority for the first time by the mid-2040s. Millennials, meanwhile, who number 83.1 million, have now surpassed Baby Boomers at 75.4 million and are the most diverse generation in history. But Census numbers show that the generation after them will be the first to be majority-minority. More than half of all Americans aged five years or younger are non-white.

TIME Innovation

Fight Prison Gangs by Breaking Up Big Prisons

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. America’s biggest prisons are factories exporting prison gangs. Break them up.

By David Skarbek and Courtney Michaluk in Politico

2. Find out why demographics and a charismatic leader still aren’t enough to make a majority party.

By Suzy Khimm in the New Republic

3. Denied a seat at the table of global power, the BRICS nations are building their own table.

By Shashi Tharoor in Project Syndicate

4. With an implanted treatment that blocks a narcotic high, one doctor wants to end addiction.

By Sujata Gupta in Mosaic Science

5. Your next insurance inspector could be a drone.

By Cameron Graham in Technology Advice

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Research

Rising Birth Rates a Good Sign for the Economy

Large Group of Babies
Getty Images

First increase since the recession

The number of children born in the U.S. increased in 2014 for the first time since the Great Recession, a sign that some women may be feeling financially stable enough to start a family.

The National Center for Health Statistics released a study Wednesday showing that both the number of births and the fertility rate in the U.S. increased by 1% in 2014, the first rise since 2007, when both demographic markers began dropping.

Last year, the U.S. birth rate had fallen to a 15-year low, according to NCHS data, with the number of births decreasing from 4.3 million in 2007 to 3.9 million in 2013, a 9% drop. Based on 2007 birth rates, University of New Hampshire demographer Ken Johnson estimates that there were 2.3 million fewer babies born between 2008 and 2013 than there would have been if the birth rate remained stable.

The falling birth rate has been one of the indirect consequences of the recession and of particular concern for demographers. Low birth rates over the long term, barring an influx of immigrants, can mean a population decline that leads to a smaller tax base and fewer people to financially support programs like Social Security and Medicare as the population ages.

Demographers have been trying to determine whether the economy forced women to merely delay childbirth or forego starting a family altogether. The latest numbers, while preliminary, suggest that women may just have been delaying.

The birth rate for women aged 30-34, many of whom were graduating from college and looking for jobs when the recession hit, rose 3% in 2014 and has steadily increased since 2011. The rate for women aged 35-39 increased by 3% while the rate for those aged 40-44 rose 2%.

For women aged 20-24, however, the birth rate decreased by 2%, and it remained steady for those aged 25-29, suggesting that many millennials are still putting off starting a family.

“We won’t know how significant this is unless it continues for the next few years,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, of the overall rise in birth rates. “But it’s a glimmer of hope that demographic responses are reacting to an improving economy.”

TIME Polls

The Politics of Multiracial Americans

They're much less likely to identify as Republican or Democrat

Multiracial adults are more likely than the average American to dissociate themselves from the two major political parties, with nearly half identifying as neither Democrats nor Republicans, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Pew’s survey—a comprehensive look at the attitudes, experiences and values of mixed-race Americans—found that 44% of multiracial adults identify as either political independents (28%) or “something else” (16%). Among the general public, just 36% profess no partisan leanings.

The trend is particularly pronounced among young multiracial adults. More than half of all mixed-race Americans ages 18 to 29 affiliate with neither Republican nor Democrat, with 29% classifying themselves as political independents and 23% identifying as “something else.”

Multiracial Americans’ diminished sense of partisanship has the potential to reshape electoral coalitions in an era of demographic change. The percentage of multiracial babies born in America has ballooned from just 1% in 1970 to 10% in 2013, according to Pew. The sense of alienation from the political process reported by mixed-race adults suggests the need for both parties to recalibrate their messaging to match a growing, increasingly nonpartisan segment of the country. It also underscores the potential for a third party to emerge as the U.S. evolves into the majority-minority country over the next three decades.

Despite their heightened aversion to partisanship, multiracial Americans tend to mirror the general public’s political leanings. Adults who are mix of white and Asian, white and black or black and American Indian are all more likely to affiliate with or lean Democratic—though slightly less so than single-race whites, blacks or Asians.

Of all the mixed-race groups surveyed by Pew, only Americans who are part white and part American Indian favor Republicans, 53% to 42%. That proportion is similar to the political leanings of single-race whites, who identify as or lean Republican by a 55% to 41% margin.

For Pew, one of the challenges of pinpointing mixed-race Americans’ political leanings was defining the size of the multiracial population. It has only been 15 years since the U.S. Census Bureau allowed respondents to identify as more than one race, and many of those who qualify as multiracial don’t self-identify as such.

As a result, Pew argues, the Census estimate that about 2% of the U.S. is mixed-race may undershoot the mark. Pew’s report found that 7% of the U.S. population could be considered multiracial, based on respondents’ answers and the races of their parents or grandparents.

The Pew Research Center survey polled 1,555 multiracial adults and 1,495 members of the general public from February to April.

MONEY Workplace

Minority Retail Workers Paid Less Than Whites

A higher minimum wage could help even things out.

A study revealed minority retail workers are paid less than white peers. Researchers say this feeds into poverty and recommend an increase in minimum wage. The minimum wage nationwide is $7.25 an hour, but many states have higher minimum wages. Fast food workers have been protesting for higher pay recently as well.

TIME Workplace & Careers

Millennials Now Largest Generation in the U.S. Workforce

They surpassed Generation X earlier this year

Millennials have now surpassed Generation X to become the largest generation in the American workforce, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Adults between the ages of 18-34 now make up one in three American workers, Pew reports. They outnumbered working adults in Generation X, who were 18-33 in the year 1998, in early 2015 after overtaking Baby Boomers last year.

The estimated 53.5 million millennials in the work force are only expected to grow as millennials currently enrolled in college graduate and begin working. The generation is also growing thanks to recent immigration, as more than half of new immigrant workers have been millennials.

The millennial generation as a whole, not just those in the labor force, is also expected to surpass the Baby Boom generation as the largest living generation in the U.S.

 

MONEY Macroeconomic trends

8 Surprising Economic Trends That Will Shape the Next Century

crowd of people
Douglas Mason—Getty Images

Here are the stories that will matter in the years ahead.

Forget monthly jobs reports, GDP releases, and quarterly earnings. As I see it, there are eight important economic stories worth tracking right now that could have a big impact in the coming decades.

1. The U.S. population age 30-44 declined by 3.8 million from 2002 to 2012. That cohort is now growing again. By 2023 there will be an estimated 5.8 million more Americans aged 30 to 44 than there are now, according to the Census Bureau. This is important, because this age group spends tons of money, buys lots of homes and cars, and start lots of new businesses.

2. U.S. companies have $2.1 trillion cash held abroad. Much of this is because we have an inane tax code that taxes foreign profits twice: Once in the country they’re earned in, and again when companies bring that money back to the United States. If Congress ends this rule and switches to a territorial tax system — in which countries can bring foreign-earned cash back to their home country without paying another layer of taxes, as every other developed country allows — there could be a flood of new dividends, buybacks, and investments in America. It’s huge, pent-up demand waiting to be spent.

3. U.S. infrastructure is in disastrous shape. Roads, bridges, dams, and other public infrastructure have been neglected for years. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that $3.6 trillion in new investment is needed by 2020 to bring the country’s infrastructure up to “good” condition. Will this happen soon? Of course not. This is Congress we’re talking about. But the good news is that this work must eventually be done. You can’t just let critical bridges and water structures fail and say, “Damn. That Brooklyn Bridge was nice while we had it.” Things will have to be repaired. Sooner rather than later would be smart, because we can borrow now for zero percent interest. But someday, it will happen. And it’ll be a huge boon to jobs and growth when it does.

4. The whole structure of modern business is changing. I’m not sure who said it first, but this quote has been floating around Twitter lately: “In 2015 Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles, Facebook the world’s most popular media owner creates no content, Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory, and Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate.” Fundamental assumptions about what is needed to be a successful business have changed in just the last few years.

5. California is one of the most important agricultural states, growing 99% of the nation’s artichokes, 94% of broccoli, 95% of celery, 95% of garlic, 85% of lettuce, 95% of tomatoes, 73% of spinach, 73% of melons, 69% of carrots, 99% of almonds, 98% of pistachios, and 89% of berries (the list goes on). And the state is basically running out of water. Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wrote last week: “Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year megadrought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.” This could change rapidly in one good winter, but it could also turn into a quick tailwind on food prices. It could also be a huge boost for desalination companies.

6. New home construction will probably need to rise 40% from current levels to keep up with long-term household formation. We’re now building about 1 million new homes a year. That will likely have to rise to an average of 1.4 million per year, which combines Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ projection of 1.2 million new households being formed each year and an annual average of 200,000 homes being lost to natural disaster or torn down. This is important because new home construction is, historically, one of the top drivers of economic growth.

7. American households have the lowest debt burden in more than three decades. And the largest portion of household debt is mortgages, most of which are fixed-rate. So when people ask, “What’s going to happen to debt burdens when interest rates rise?”, the answer is “Probably not that much.”

8. America has some of the best demographics among major economies. Between 2012 and 2050, America’s working-age population (those ages 15-64) is projected to rise by 47 million. China’s working-age population is set to shrink by 200 million, Russia’s to fall by 34 million, Japan’s by 27 million, Germany’s by 13 million, and France’s by 1 million. People worry about the impact of retiring U.S. baby boomers, but the truth is we have favorable demographics other countries can’t even dream about. This is massively overlooked and underappreciated.

There’s a lot more important stuff going on, of course. And the biggest news story of the next 20 years is almost certainly something that nobody is talking about today. But if I had to bet on eight big trends that will very likely make a difference, these would be them.

For more:

TIME Demographics

Over 50% of Americans Will Be Nonwhite Within 30 Years

U.S. Census Bureau finds today's minorities will be in the majority by 2044

Half of all children in the U.S. will be nonwhite by 2020, according to new census data released Tuesday, and more than half the entire population by 2044.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 projections looked ahead at the national population up to 2060, making various projections on the country’s demographic makeup based on factors like birth rates, deaths and migration patterns.

The data suggests that, by 2044, the majority of the population will be nonwhite, with that number rising to 56.4 percent by 2060. The Hispanic population will see the largest growth from now until 2060, the Census Bureau predicts, jumping from 17.4 percent to 28.6 percent. The percentage of white Americans will drop from 62.2 percent now to 43.6 percent within 45 years.

Senior citizens will also make up a greater share of the population. Now, about one in seven Americans is over the age of 65. The last baby boomers turn 65 in 2029, and by 2030 the number of elderly citizens will jump to one in five. The foreign-born population is also expected to increase from 13 to 19 percent.

The predictions in the U.S. Census Bureau report rely on a number of assumptions based on current trends, and aren’t a guarantee of what the future U.S. population will look like.

 

TIME cities

Maybe Millennials Don’t Want to Live in Cities After All

Suburban street
Barbara Fischer—Getty Images

Two-thirds want to own a home in the suburbs, study says

The accepted wisdom about millennials is that they shun the suburbs for the cities. They want to be in urban cores next to easily accessible public transportation options that allow them to seamlessly hit up bars, restaurants and any space with wi-fi.

But any blanket statement about a group that’s roughly 80 million strong will have holes, and a new survey appears to run against that common perception. The poll, released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders, shows that Americans in their 20s and mid-30s actually would rather settle down in the suburbs than in city centers.

(MORE: Millennials Will Overtake Baby Boomers to Become Biggest Generation)

According to NAHB’s study, 66% of respondents who were born in 1977 or later said they would prefer to buy a home in an outlying suburb or close to a suburb, while only 24% preferred buying a house in a rural area and 10% would rather have a home in the center of a city.

(MORE: Turns Out Millennials Do Want to Own Cars)

Those numbers seem to show that while millennials may love living in urban cores while they’re young and largely childless, they realize that it may be too expensive in the long-term to buy. It also may signal that apartment living is taking its toll as millennials get older. More than 80% said they wanted to live in a home with three or more bedrooms.

TIME People

Millennials Will Overtake Baby Boomers to Become America’s Biggest Generation

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Getty Images

And Generation X will overtake baby boomers by 2028

There’s a lot of them: 75 million total, in fact.

Millennials, or individuals born between 1981 and 1997, are set to become the most populous generation in the U.S. this year, eclipsing the baby boomer generation, according to newly-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau cited in a Pew Research Center report.

Baby boomers, or those born from 1946 to 1964, will drop into second place and then third place by 2028, when Generation X (those born between 1965 to 1980) will beat out baby boomers.

The 74.9 million people born as a result of a post-World War II population boom — hence the name baby boomers — are seeing their numbers decline through increasing mortality rates, while millennials are seeing an upsurge in their population from immigration, the Pew findings show.

Immigration projections estimate that millennials will top out at 81.1 million in 2036. By comparison, baby boomers reached their population zenith in 1999, when there were 78.8 million boomers.

[Pew Research Center]

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