demographic trends

Seismic Demographic Shifts Contribute to Rising Racial Animus

Pew Research has updated its demographic report that shows racial and ethnic minorities are continuing to grow and there are now around 300 nonwhite-majority counties in America, most of which are located in the Southwest from Texas to California. Virtually none are in the stretch of America from the Ohio Valley to the Pacific Northwest.

Pew Research has updated its demographic report that shows racial and ethnic minorities are continuing to grow and there are now around 300 nonwhite-majority counties in America, most of which are located in the Southwest from Texas to California. Virtually none are in the stretch of America from the Ohio Valley to the Pacific Northwest.

Intensifying racial and ethnic animus in America can be traced in part to changing demographics as Hispanic, Asian and African-American populations continue to grow, while white populations remain relatively stable.

According to an updated Pew Research Center study released last week, racial diversification is occurring unevenly around the nation, which may explain differing attitudes toward demographic shifts.

Pew Research says 109 counties went from majority white to majority nonwhite between 2000 and 2018, based on US Census information. There are now almost 300 counties in the country with nonwhite majorities.

The largest number of nonwhite-majority counties are in the Southwest from Texas to Southern California. There are concentrations of nonwhite-majority counties in the South and along the Eastern seaboard. There are virtually none from the Ohio River Valley through the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. There are two nonwhite-majority counties – Yakima and Adams – in Washington and none in Oregon. 

Nonwhite majorities exist in 21 of the 25 US counties with the largest populations. Eight of those 21 had white majorities as recently as 2000. They include San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Sacramento counties in California, Clark County in Nevada, Broward County in Florida, Tarrant County in Texas and Wayne County in Michigan. Hispanics represented the largest nonwhite population in seven of those eight counties. African-Americans were the largest nonwhite population in Wayne County, which includes Detroit.

Pew notes two counties, both with small populations, shifted from nonwhite majorities to white majorities in the same time period – Calhoun County in South Carolina and West Feliciana Parish in Louisiana.

Even as racial and ethnic diversity increases, whites remain the single largest bloc, Pew says, accounting for 60 percent of the nation’s populations. The largest US counties with white majorities include King County in Washington.

The Pew demographic study also noted reverse migration patterns, such as African-Americans leaving northern states to move to Atlanta and an increase in multiracial Americans.

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 An earlier PEW Research commentary noted six significant demographic trends:

  1. Millennials between the ages of 23 and 38 are the largest adult cohort in America and tend to be more educated, more racially and ethnically diverse and slower to marry than previous generations.

  2. Hispanics are projected to be the largest racial and ethnic group that will cast votes in the 2020 election.

  3. The American family continues to change. Now one in four US parents is unmarried.

  4. The 13.6 percent immigrant share of the US population is approaching a record high dating back to 1910 when immigrants accounted for 14.7 percent of the US population. The percentage was slightly higher in 1890. According to United Nations data, 25 nations and territories have a larger percentage of immigrant population than the United States.

  5. The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

  6. Incomes are rising, but the increase is not spread equally. US household income is at or near its highest level in the last 50 years, while income inequality has grown, especially among racial and ethnic groups. For example, between 1970 and 2016, Asian-Americans went from a group with the lowest income inequality to the highest.

And, here are some bonus demographic data points related to older adults:

  • Around 90 percent of the increase in US employment since 1998 has come from higher employment of workers 55 and older.

  • The labor force participation rate for people age 65 to 69 has risen from roughly 28 percent in 1998 to 38 percent in 2019 for men and from 18 percent to about 30 percent for women.

  • Adults between ages 55 and 64 made up 26 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2017, an increase over the 19 percent figure in 2007.