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Census Numbers Track Changing Face of the Nation

July 11, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Recent data from the U.S. Census track an historic shift in the nation's diversity, revealing that most of the country's babies are now members of minorities. And that, says a Kentucky trend tracker and long-time demographer, points to the need for policy and attitude changes.

Ron Crouch, director of Research and Statistics for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, says the U.S. population of young children is mostly of minority-group origin, with births for minorities at a record high.

"The population under age 2, there is now no longer any majority population in the United States. Non-Hispanic whites are a minority, just like blacks, Hispanics and Asians."

Crouch says the same holds true for Kentucky, although the Bluegrass State, he points out, is still mostly white. He adds that in the last decade, Census numbers reveal Hispanics account for virtually all growth in Kentucky of people under age 18.

Crouch says the reason for the nation's 9.5 percent growth spurt in the last decade may be surprising.

"That growth is not due to young people and births, it's due to longevity and people living longer. Almost all growth in the country now is ages 45 and older."

Crouch says Canada, Australia and the U.S. are the only three developed countries with population growth at all.

"And our growth, for that younger population under 45, is due basically to immigration. And, without immigration, we would not have a young work force to take care of that aging population down the future."

Crouch says the recent Census data present a teachable moment to policymakers grappling with the problem of strengthening the U.S. economy.

"We better make sure we're investing in all of our young people regardless of their skin color. Because, they're going to be taking care of an aging population that looks more like me, white, and there's going to be more persons of color: black, Asian, Hispanic."

Crouch believes the U.S. should embrace a multilingual society that, in his view, will serve the nation well in the global economy. He points to the current economic boom in some South and Central America countries as reasons America should keep its borders open.

Census data can be found at www.census.gov

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY