- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

One in every three U.S. residents is now classified as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority, largely because of the explosive growth of the nation’s Hispanic population, the Census Bureau reported yesterday.

Hispanics accounted for nearly half of the nation’s total population increase during the year ending July 1, 2005, the report said.

Growing faster than any other segment of the population, Hispanics make up the largest minority with 42.7 million members. The second largest minority group is composed of blacks, with 39.7 million, followed by Asians, with 14.4 million. The minority population also includes 4.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives and 990,000 Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

In all, the nation’s minority population totaled 98 million, or one-third of the total 296.4 million residents. The non-Hispanic white population that listed no other race totaled 198.4 million.

An earlier Census Bureau projection showed that the so-called “minority” population and the current “majority” of non-Hispanic whites each would make up about half of the total population by the year 2050, said Robert Bernstein, a bureau spokesman.

This report said that Hispanics made up 14.4 percent of the total population. Blacks make up 13.4 percent, Asians 4.8 percent and non-Hispanic whites 66.9 percent.

“These middecade numbers provide further evidence of the increasing diversity of our nation’s population,” said Charles Louis Kincannon, director of the Census Bureau.

The nation’s population grew by 2.8 million between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005, with Hispanics making up nearly half — 1.3 million people — of this increase.

There are two components of population growth — immigration and natural increase of births over deaths, Mr. Bernstein said.

Hispanics are leading the nation’s growth in both factors. Of the Hispanic increase of 1.3 million, 800,000 was because of natural increase (births minus deaths) and 500,000 was through immigration, the bureau said.

This “natural” growth is likely to accelerate because the Hispanic population is younger than other segments. The median age of a Hispanic resident was 27.2 compared with the median age of 36.2 for the nation as a whole.

About a third of the Hispanic population was younger than 18, compared with a fourth of the total population.

The Hispanic population grew at the fastest rate — 3.3 percent — during the yearlong period, but Asians were not far behind. The Asian population grew by 3 percent, or 421,000 people. However, most of this growth was through immigration — 239,000 compared with 182,000 through “natural” increase.

“This is a continuation of trends with the Hispanic and Asian populations growing rapidly in comparison with the rest of the population, Mr. Bernstein said.

Indeed, the non-Hispanic white population grew by only 0.8 percent and the black population by 1.3 percent.

The American Indian and Alaska Native population rose by 1 percent and the Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders by 1.5 percent.

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