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Millennials will drive consumer markets as Americans get older and become more ethnically diverse.
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Buckle up. The road of consumer change is fixing to get winding and the grade, steep.
“The next half-century marks key points in continuing trends,” says Thomas L. Mesenbourg, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB). “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.”
The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. Minorities represent 37% of the U.S. population currently, but are projected to comprise 57% of the population in 2060.
In December 2012, USCB estimated the U.S. population at 314 million; it pegs the population in 2050 at 399.8 million. Though significantly less than the agency’s previous quadrennial projections, it still represents an increase of 27.3% in fewer than four decades.
According to USCB, the population is projected to grow more slowly over the next several decades than previously estimated, due to lower projected levels of births and net international migration.
Incidentally, the U.S. population represents approximately 4.5% of the world’s population today.
Melting pot continues to thicken
The non-Hispanic white population in the U.S. is projected to peak at 199.6 million in 2024, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, it is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Hispanic population is projected to more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. If this is correct, by 2060, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, up from one in six today.
The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1% in 2012 to 14.7% in 2060.
Meanwhile, the Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, growing from 5.1% of the U.S. population today to 8.2% by 2060.
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Moreover, the ethnic and racial lines are getting blurred.
“Once a mainly biracial society with a large white majority and relatively small black minority — and an impenetrable color line dividing these groups — the U.S. is now a society composed of multiple racial and ethnic groups,” say authors of the 2011 Congressional Research Service report, The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States. “Along with increased immigration are rises in the rates of racial/ethnic intermarriage, which in turn have led to a sizable and growing multiracial population. These trends are projected to continue for the next decades.”