If you are the sort of person who is deeply worried about the shifting racial demographics of the United States (i.e., a racist), a bit of a reality check: It is partly your fault. Last year, for apparently the first time, more non-Hispanic white people died than were born. Other trends confirmed by the Census compilation of population estimates for the year 2012 were expected: the U.S. population is shifting to the Southwest, getting older, with more people moving to cities. But the point about white population decline was probably the most surprising.
The Washington Post reports on what that shift looks like.
Population estimates for 2012 released Thursday show what’s known as a natural decrease — a straightforward calculation of births minus deaths — of about 12,400 people among the nation’s 198 million non-Hispanic whites.
Although the percentage is small, several demographers said they are not aware of another time in U.S. history — not even during the Depression or wars — when there was such shrinkage among the dominant racial group. No other group showed a similar falloff.
Here's how it goes by racial group:
The population of non-Hispanic whites nonetheless grew, thanks to 188,000 immigrants from Europe and Canada. Whites remains the country's largest ethnic group. But the fastest-growing ethnic group was Asians, which rose by 2.9 percent.
Most states saw a net increase in the number of births over deaths — more in larger states. The two states that saw net declines in natural population rates were Maine and West Virginia, states not known for their ethnic diversity.
Which, in turn, led to a slight increase in the national population.
And as it grew, it also continued to get older. Note the yellow line in the graph below — it's population by age group for 2012. That it shifted slightly to the right of 2011 (which shifted slightly to the right of 2010) indicates that America is getting older. The average age of Americans is now 37.4 — up from 37.3.
Between 2010 and 2012, nearly every state saw a net population increase, except Rhode Island. The largest growth rate was in North Dakota — thanks almost solely to the state's fracking boom.
That's interesting, in part, because, again for the first time ever, rural areas are losing population. The Associated Press reports:
Rural America is losing population for the first time ever, largely because of waning interest among baby boomers in moving to far-flung locations for retirement and recreation, according to new census estimates. …
The new estimates, as of July 2012, show that would-be retirees are opting to stay put in urban areas near jobs. Recent weakness in the economy means some boomers have less savings than a decade ago to buy a vacation home in the countryside, which often becomes a full-time residence after retirement. Cities are also boosting urban living, a potential draw for boomers who may prefer to age closer to accessible health care.
Looking at the 100 fastest-growing counties, you can see how that plays out. In eastern Montana and western North Dakota, counties sitting on the oil-rich Bakken shale formation have seen big growth. Otherwise, the counties are heavily in urban regions.
While some data points are new, the overall trend remains the same. America is getting more urban, getting older, and getting less white. We now return you to our regular coverage of the push for new immigration reform policy in the United States Congress.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.