New Census Projections Underscore Changing Demographics

Figure 1. Projected National Race and Ethnic Trends, 2015 - 2060

New population projections from the Census Bureau make it quite clear that the U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060. These projections of the nation’s population by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, which cover the years 2012-2060, are the first set of population projections based on the 2010 Census.

“The next half century marks key points in continuing trends — the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” said Acting Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg.

Furthermore, the population is projected to grow much more slowly over the next several decades than previously forecast, due to lower levels of projected births and net international migration.

According to the projections, the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today. The increase in the number of the “oldest old” would be even more dramatic — those 85 and older are projected to more than triple from 5.9 million to 18.2 million, reaching 4.3 percent of the total population.

The non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, and, unlike other race or ethnic groups, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.

Meanwhile, the Hispanic population will more than double to 128.8 million in 2060, accounting for nearly one in three U.S. residents.

The black population is expected to increase to 61.8 million, as its share rises slightly, from 13.1 to 14.7 percent.

The Asian population is projected to more than double to 34.4 million, with its share climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

Among the remaining race groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives would increase by more than half to 6.3 million, with their share edging up from 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population is expected to nearly double, from 706,000 to 1.4 million. The number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races is projected to more than triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million.

The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority.

Other highlights:

  • The older population will continue to be predominately non-Hispanic white, while younger ages are increasingly minority.
  • The nation’s total population will cross the 400 million mark in 2051, reaching 420.3 million in 2060.
  • In 2056, for the first time, the older population, age 65 and over, is projected to outnumber the young, age under 18.
  • The working-age population (18 to 64) will decline from 62.7 percent to 56.9 percent of the nation’s total.