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America's Growing Diversity

This year, the U.S. federal government will conduct the long-awaited 2020 Census. This extraordinary survey will measure how America's population has evolved since 2010 after the nation experienced monumental changes in its ethnic and racial diversity.

What types of population changes will the United States undergo in the upcoming decade? In today's Language Network article, you'll learn about America's and California's increasing diversity.

How Federal Agencies Assess the Immigrant Population in the U.S.

The Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population using data collected from its census and surveys, regardless of a person's legal status. It includes unauthorized migrants in its studies; however, the federal agency admits that it cannot tabulate separate estimates for each migrant group.

The bureau uses three designations to track populations within America's borders.

  • Native-Born - The Census Bureau uses this designation for any person born in the United States, Puerto Rico, or U.S. Island Areas (Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or U.S. Virgin Islands), or abroad of a U.S. citizen parent or parents.
  • Foreign-Born - The U.S. Census Bureau refers to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth as a foreign-born person. These include naturalized U.S. citizens, permanent residents (immigrants), temporary migrants, humanitarian migrants (refugees and asylum seekers), and unauthorized migrants. These individuals make up the foreign-born population in the United States.
  • Generational Status - the agency uses the generational status of first, second, and third generations to refer to the place of birth of an individual and their parents.


The U.S. History Experiences its Smallest Population Increase in Years

The Brookings Institution is a renowned public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. The respected nonprofit research group examines local, national, and global issues, including how diversity has shaped America's population and policies.

Last year, the organization used Census Bureau data to develop population estimates ahead of the upcoming 2020 Census. In 2017, the total U.S. population was 325.7 million people. The bureau's researchers determined that America only grew 7.1 percent between 2010 and 2020. It is a historic low. This figure is smaller than the previous record of 7.3 percent during the 1930s Great Depression. It is nearly 50 percent lower than the 1990-2000s population increase due to millennial births and a high number of immigrants.

The slowdown was caused by low fertility and an increased death rate during the last decade. The Brookings Institution projects this trend to continue past the 2010s. It expects the baby boomer generation to become increasingly dependent on younger people.

According to Census Data, 30 states had decade-wide declines in youth populations, including California, which lost more than 400,000 people. Texas was the state with the highest migrant gains over the period. They added more than 500,000 young people.


How Foreign-Born Residents and Immigrants Have Impacted the Population Growth  

According to the 2017 American Community Survey, one in seven U.S. residents is foreign-born. In 2017, almost 44.5 million immigrants lived in the country (or 13.7 percent of the total population). This rate is still high, even though growth has slowed during the last two years. The figure is higher than the historic low in 1970 but lower than the all-time high of 14.8 percent in 1890.

The Brookings Institution says that immigration will become increasingly critical to America's health as a nation moving forward. The organization believes that understanding their role will be essential as the nation faces continued population stagnation.

In 2017, the organization projected that immigrants and their children would account for most of the population growth of young people. The Census Bureau forecasted that immigrants would account for more than half of the nation's population growth by 2030.

Unfortunately, the number of people immigrating to the United States has dropped in the last two years. Although the U.S. saw some significant growth in the immigration population, these numbers have decreased in 2018, according to William Frey, the chief demographer of the Brookings Institute.

The institute found that the net increase of immigrants in the U.S. dropped to almost 200,000 people in 2018. This figure represents a 70 percent decline from 2017. It is unusual for immigration to slow during periods of economic expansion periods (when jobs are plentiful). The previous decline occurred during the 2008 financial crisis in 2008. David Bier, an immigration expert at the Cato Institute, believes that changes in federal policies have indirectly caused a decrease in immigration.

The American Community Survey found the largest declines of groups immigrating to America were people from Latin American and Asia who were non-U.S. citizens.


America's Expanding Racial Diversity

Brookings Institute Demographer William H. Frey released the book, Diversity Explosion, in 2018. The work explores America's changing ethnic and cultural groups. In this work, Frey described the extraordinary demographic changes occurring in America.

"As a demographer who has followed U.S. population trends for decades, even I was surprised by the sheer scope of change that came to light with the 2010 census – a change that is continuing," Frey said. "The story that the data tells is not just more of the same. I am convinced that the United States is in the midst of a pivotal period ushering in extraordinary shifts in the nation's racial and demographic makeup."

Frey describes this evolution as a "diversity explosion." He believes that it will bring significant changes in the attitudes of individuals, American politics, and institutional practices. The demographer states that if the nation plans correctly, these demographic changes will help the country obtain new growth and vitality. Additionally, it will allow the U.S. to reinvent the classic American melting pot for a new era.

The scholar included several demographics projections for racial groups within the U.S.  These are the expected growth figures from 2015-2060:

  • Whites: 61.5 Percent (-10 percent decrease)
  • Hispanic: 17.6 Percent (96 percent increase)
  • African-Americans: 12.3 Percent (37 percent increase)
  • Asians: 5.5 Percent (103 percent increase)
  • Bi-Racial: 2.3 Percent (200 percent increase)
  • American Indians: 0.6 Percent (14 percent increase)
  • Other Races: 0.2 Percent


U.S. Diversity Trends

Frey says that racial change has never been easy and has been fraught with fear and conflict. He says that for most of the nation's history, nonwhite racial groups have remained a small minority of the population. They faced discrimination through segregation and other laws that denied them basic rights. The demographer believes that the U.S. will enter a different era since the increased number of minorities will coincide with the decline in the aging, white population.

1. New Minorities Will Increase in the Nation

Frey believes that the nation will experience rapid growth of new minorities and increasingly multiracial groups. He expects Hispanic and Asian populations to double in size between 2015 and 2060. The scholar also forecasts multiracial communities to triple. These new minority populations have resulted from immigration waves, which contributed more than four-fifths of the nation's population since 2000. The researcher projects the trend to accelerate in the future. 

2. Diminished Growth and Aging of the U.S. White Population

The white population only grew by 1.2 percent from 2000 – 2015. Frey says this modest increase occurred due to lower white immigration rates, reduced fertility, and aging. In 2022, this population will decrease if these trends continue. He expects the declining rates to be most prominent among the younger populations.

3. Black Economic Advances and Migration Changes

Many segments of the African-American population has entered the middle class, although former population shifts have reversed. In the past, blacks left the South during the Great Migration. Now, African Americans are leaving cities and moving to the suburbs, primarily in prosperous Southern locales.


California's Diversity Statistics

At 34 million people, California has the highest population within the nation. The state is also the most racially diverse. Here is a breakdown of ethnic populations within the state.

1. Whites

Almost 72.9 percent of the state's population is white. Non-Hispanic whites make up 38.0 percent of this group. The most commonly cited ancestries for these individuals in California are the following:

  • Mexican (25 percent)
  • Germany (9 percent)
  • Irish (7.7 percent)
  • English (7.4 percent)
  • Italian (5.8 Percent)

San Francisco and Los Angeles have the highest numbers of individuals with Palestine, Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Romania, and Scandinavian ancestry.

2. Latinos

The Migration Policy Institute reports that 44 percent of U.S. Immigrants (19.7 million people) reported being Hispanic or Latinos. The majority of this population is native-born. In 2017, there were 58.8 million people who self-identified as Hispanic or Latino. Thirty-four percent of this population (19.7 million) were immigrants, and 66 percent were native-born.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos made up 39.3 percent of California's population in 2018. The majority live in Southern California, especially Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. Latinos comprise 20 percent of the San Francisco Bay Area. Many live in San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties.


3. Asian Americans

According to the 2010 Census, California has one of the highest Asian-American populations at 14.7 percent. The state is only second behind Hawaii. The largest Asian-American ethnic groups include Filipino-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Vietnamese-Americans. Other ethnicities include Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Cambodian.

The majority of California's Asian Americans live in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

4. African Americans

California has 2.3 million black residents. They make up almost 6.5 percent of California's population. Although the black population increased after World War II, it has declined in recent decades. There have been recent immigration waves of blacks from Africa and the Caribbean.

5. Native Americans

California's Native Americans are related to the state's earliest indigenous inhabitants. Their ancestors were hunters and gatherers that date back to 9000 BC. The total Native American population is 696,600 people.


Where America's Diverse Populations Live

The Brookings Institution expects diversity to increase as the youngest generations replace the older populations. Its lead demographer believes parallel geographic shifts will spread from the traditional Melting Pot regions outward to the rest of the nation. Here are some of the most interesting population shifts in America.

1. Hispanic and Asian Population Concentrations

The trend differs from the 1980s and early 1990s, when Hispanic and Asian populations were heavily concentrated in immigrant gateway cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. They clustered in these cities to rely on friendship and family connections for social and economic support.

The Brookings Institute estimates that Hispanic residents represented a swath of counties from California to Texas. They also comprised great parts of the Mountain West, the Southeast, and the urbanized portion of the North. They currently make up almost 18.3 percent of the U.S. Population.

Asian residents, who comprise 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, predominantly live in California, Washington, Texas, parts of the Southeast, and larger metropolitan areas.

2. African American, American Indian, and Alaskan Native Population Centers

The organization found that African Americans make up 12.5 percent of the United States' population. The highest concentration (almost 58 percent) live in the Southern United States. Large groups also live in northern urban areas, and together with other minorities in the West.

Although American Indians and Alaskan Natives have a smaller population, they primarily live in large portions of the West, in areas like Oklahoma, Alaska, the Mountain West, and Upper Great Plains. 


How to Prepare Your Organization for the Upcoming Changes 

America's growing diversity means that governmental organizations will need to prepare for the upcoming changes. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin. Programs that receive federal funds cannot discriminate.

The prohibition extends to international discrimination as well as to procedures, criteria, or methods of administration that appear neutral but may have a discriminatory effect. Organizations must provide equal access to all American citizens and foreign-born residents. One of the best ways is to translate important documents for non-English speaking residents.

The Language Network has trained, qualified interpreters and translators who can help your organization. Contact us today to hire one of our professionals.



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