A brief statistical road trip across the swiftly changing, if not swiftly growing, country
The U.S. population grew slower in 2011 than any time in the last 70 years, capping the most lethargic decade of population growth since the 1930s. It's a testament to the combined effect of low-birthrates and halted immigration as the economy came to a standstill in 2007. These are incredible numbers, but the deeper look at our population growth's composition is just as fascinating and historic.
For the last few years, demographers and political analysts have predicted that the United States is moving inevitably toward a "majority-minority" future, where whites account for no more than half of the population. Analysis from the Brookings Institution explains why they're so sure about it. For the first time ever, half the children under the age of one are not white. Minorities accounted for 92 percent of population growth in the 2000s.
The pie charts in the picture above appear the same size, but remember that the country grew more than 30 percent faster in the 1990s than in the 2000s. If population growth is the pie, then minorities are taking a larger slice of a shrinking pie.
But something else is going on: Whites aren't having as many children. And they're not getting any younger. "From one direction, racial diversity in the United States is growing, particularly among the young," Ron Brownstein wrote in "The Gray and the Brown," a National Journal cover story. "At the same time, the country is also aging, as the massive Baby Boom Generation moves into retirement [and] fully four-fifths of this rapidly expanding senior population is white." The brown and the gray are growing at the same time.