Saturday, August 09, 2008
By SAM ROBERTS | NY Times
August 6, 2008
Foreshadowing the nation’s changing makeup, one in four American counties have passed or are approaching the tipping point where black, Hispanic and Asian children constitute a majority of the under-20 population, according to analyses of census figures released Thursday.
Racial and ethnic minorities now account for 43 percent of Americans under 20. Among people of all ages, minorities make up at least 40 percent of the population in more than one in six of the nation’s 3,141 counties.
The latest population changes by race, ethnicity and age, as of July 1, 2007, were generally marginal compared with the year before. But they confirm the breadth of the nation’s diversity, and suggest that minorities — now about a third of the population — might constitute a majority of all Americans even sooner than projected by census demographers, in 2050.
In 2000, black, Hispanic and Asian children under age 20 were at or near a majority in only about one-fifth of the counties and, over all, blacks, Hispanics and Asians accounted for 40 percent or more of the population in about one in seven counties.
Even with the growing diversity, all but one of the 82 counties where blacks make up a majority are in the South (except St. Louis), all but two of the 46 where Hispanics are in the majority are in the South or the West (except the Bronx and Seward, Kan., home to giant meatpacking plants), and four of the five counties with the largest proportion of Asians are in Hawaii (San Francisco rounds out the top five with 33 percent).
Except for two counties in New Mexico and South Dakota with large American Indian populations, the 10 counties with the highest proportion of minorities were along or near the Mexican border.
From 2006 to 2007, according to the bureau’s revised estimates, the counties that became majority-minority included Rockdale, near Atlanta.
An analysis by Kelvin Pollard and Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau found 489 counties where a majority among people younger than 20 are racial and ethnic minorities and another 274 where they account for 40 percent to 50 percent of people in that age group.
The latest figures confirm the sweep of America’s growing diversity, outside central cities and beyond black and white. In 109 of the 302 majority-minority counties, no single minority made up more than half the total population.
In the New York metropolitan area, the changes suggested that the city was experiencing a racial equilibrium while the suburbs were becoming more diverse.
The number of Asians rose in every county in the New York area. Only Manhattan lost Hispanics. Non-Hispanic whites declined in every county except those that make up Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and in New Jersey, Monmouth.
An analysis by William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, found that since 2000 the top 10 gainers of non-Hispanic whites were all counties in the South or West, except for Manhattan and Will County, near Chicago.
Since 2000, Mr. Frey said, only one in six counties recorded an increase in the number of non-Hispanic white children under 15.
While half the counties recorded losses of non-Hispanic whites, Dr. Frey found, almost five times as many counties are losing white children as gaining them. A growing number of minority families with children are clustering in suburban and Sun Belt counties.
At the other extreme, he said, “are counties in the nation’s industrial heartland, inner suburbs and Great Plains that are losing their largely white child and young adult populations.”
Meanwhile, nine times as many counties are gaining mature adults as losing them.
People 65 or older made up 25 percent or more of the population in 24 counties, led by La Paz, Ariz., home to the Colorado River Indian Reservation, where they make up 32 percent. Most of the counties with disproportionately high populations 65 and older are in Florida, Texas and Michigan. Children under 5 make up 10 percent of the population in 26 counties, led by Webb County, Tex., on the Mexican border, where they constitute nearly 13 percent.