Latinos surpass whites as largest ethnic group in California

New population figures released by the US Census Bureau show that Latinos outnumber all other ethnicities in the Golden State.

Robert Harbison/File/The Christian Science Monitor
Latinos surpass whites as largest ethnic group in California

Newly released data from the US Census Bureau shows Latinos make up the largest ethnic group in California.

The figures, released in late June, show that the population of Latinos narrowly outnumbered that of the whites in the state by July 1, 2014. 

The growth of the Latino population over the last few decades has been steady and California now has six times as many Latinos as it did in 1970, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And Latinos are much younger on average. The median age of the current Latino population is under 30, while that of the white population is nearly 45. 

Immigration and high birth rates are the two factors driving the population growth of Latinos in California.

“The growth was fed first by immigration, primarily in the '80s and '90s and the first part of the 2000s, up until the Great Recession. But then starting in the early 2000s, family growth – just the number of births over deaths – became the primary way that the Hispanic population was growing,” explained Roberto Suro a professor at the University of Southern California, to National Public Radio.

In 2013, demographers predicted that the number of Latinos living in California would soon equal and later outnumber the white population living there. But they didn’t give an exact time when the changes would occur. The moment is officially here.

California is not the first state where this has happened. It's already the case in New Mexico, where Hispanics make up 47 percent of the state’s population.

Mark Hugo Lopez of Pew Research Center predicts Texas may be next.

“According to Pew Research Center tabulations from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2012 there were 10 million Latinos and 11.6 million non-Hispanic whites living in Texas, making up 38.2% and 44.4%, respectively, of the state’s 26.1 million residents. By contrast, in 2000, Latinos made up 31.9% and white non-Hispanics made up 52.4% of the state’s 20.8 million residents,” says Mr. Lopez. 

[Editor's note: The name of the Pew Research Center representative was incomplete in the original version of this article.]

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