Nation’s minority numbers top 100M

WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States is becoming more diverse, with ethnic and racial minorities topping 100 million for the first time in 2006, according to data from the Census Bureau, a symbolic milestone that signals more challenges for communities adapting to diversity.

Hispanics are moving out to more states across the nation, creating a sharp contrast between their predominantly young numbers and those of an aging white society, according to Census population estimates out Thursday.

The data suggest about one in three Americans was a minority last year.

"To put this into perspective, there are more minorities in this country today than there were people in the United States in 1910, Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said. "In fact, the minority population in the U.S. is larger than the total population of all but 11 countries."

Hispanic was the fastest-growing minority group, enlarging 3.4 percent between July 1, 2005 and July 1, 2006 for a total of 44.3 million. Asian was second with a 3.2 percent growth, totaling 14.9 million.

The nation was 66.4 percent white, non-Hispanic; 15 percent Hispanic; 13.4 percent black; 5 percent Asian, and 1.5 percent American Indian or native Alaskan. Three-tenths of a percent identified themselves as Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

The percentages add up to more than 100, in part because some people identify with more than one race and Hispanics can be of any race.

California led the way with a minority population of more than 20 million, followed by Texas with just over 12 million.

A year ago, the minority population was 98.3 million.

The black population surpassed 40 million and increased 1.3 percent.

White, non-Hispanics accounted for less than 18 percent of the nation's population growth. The population of non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race totaled 198.7 million in 2006.

The study examined 21 demographic factors, including race, age, income, education, industrial mix, immigration and the share of people living in urban and rural areas.

Each state was then ranked on how closely it matched national levels. Illinois was followed by Oregon, Michigan, Washington and Delaware.

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