WASHINGTON — The estimated time when whites will no longer make up the majority of Americans has been pushed back eight years — to 2050 — because the recession and stricter immigration policies have slowed the flow of foreigners into the U.S.
Census Bureau figures released Wednesday update last year’s prediction that white children would become a minority in 2023 and the overall white population would follow in 2042. The earlier estimate did not take into account a drop in the number of people moving into the U.S. because of the economic crisis and the immigration policies imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The 2050 estimate is one of four projections released that is based on rates for births and deaths and a scenario in which immigration continues its more recent, slower pace of adding nearly 1 million new foreigners each year. Demographers said that scenario offers the best look for now at the future demographic makeup based on current conditions, rather than other models which assume higher rates of immigration.
The United States has 308 million people today; two-thirds are non-Hispanic whites.
The total population should climb to 399 million by 2050, under the new projection, with whites making up 49.9 per cent of the population. Blacks will make up 12.2 per cent, virtually unchanged from today. Hispanics, currently 15 per cent of the population, will rise to 28 per cent in 2050.
Asians are expected to increase from 4.4 per cent of the population to 6 per cent.
The point when minority children become the majority is expected to have a similar delay of roughly eight years, moving from 2023 to 2031.
The population 85 and older is projected to more than triple by 2050, to 18.6 million.
The actual shift in demographics will be influenced by a host of factors that can’t be accurately forecast — the pace of the economic recovery, cultural changes, natural or manmade disasters, as well as an overhaul of immigration law, which may be debated in Congress as early as next year.