- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

The U.S. population is on target to hit 300 million this fall, and it’s a good bet the milestone baby — or immigrant — will be Hispanic.

No one will know for sure because the date and time will be just an estimate. But Hispanics — immigrants and those born in this country — are driving America’s population growth. They accounted for almost half the increase last year, more than any other ethnic or racial group. White non-Hispanics, who make up about two-thirds of the population, accounted for less than 20 percent of the increase.

When the population reached 200 million in 1967, there was no accurate tally of U.S. Hispanics, but most people in the U.S. did not have any Hispanic neighbors in the 1960s. The baby boom had just ended in 1964, and the country was growing through birth rates, not immigration, said Howard Hogan, the Census Bureau’s associate director for demographic programs.

In 1967, there were fewer than 10 million people in the United States who were born in other countries. Today, there are 36 million immigrants, about one in eight.

Non-Hispanic whites, who made up about 83 percent of the population in 1967, now account for about 67 percent.

As of midday yesterday, there were 299,061,199 people in the United States, according to the Census Bureau’s population clock. The estimate is based on annual numbers for births, deaths and immigration, averaged throughout the year.

The United States adds a person every 11 seconds, according to the clock. A baby is born every eight seconds, someone dies every 13 seconds, and someone migrates here every 30 seconds.

At that rate, the 300 millionth person in the United States will be born — or will cross the border — in October, although bureau officials are wary of committing to a particular month because of the subjective nature of the clock.

Hispanics surpassed blacks as the largest minority group in 2001 and today make up more than 14 percent of the population.

The United States added 2.8 million people last year — a little more than a million from immigration and about 1.7 million because births outnumbered deaths.

By the time the U.S. population hits 400 million — in the 2040s — white non-Hispanics will be but a bare majority. Hispanics are projected to make up close to one-quarter of the population, and blacks more than 14 percent. Asians will increase their share of the population to more than 7 percent.

Those percentages, however, are just projections. They are subject to big revisions, depending on immigration policy, cultural changes and natural or manmade disasters.

“In terms of projecting out a year or two, we’re not too bad,” said Mr. Hogan. “In 2043, I don’t think anybody here would think they are particularly accurate.”

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