Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone If your time to you Is worth savin’ Then you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin’.
As a nation we are in the middle of a cultural revolution. Can you feel it? The latest census figures are out and times really are changing.
According to the most recent census reports, women are becoming more educated (they now outnumber men in the number of doctoral degrees conferred), populations are shifting from rural and urban areas to the suburbs, and household size is increasing (mostly due to immigrant populations who are more likely to live in multi-generational homes.)
America is also aging and diversifying at a faster rate than anyone predicted.
According to the reports, the number of people age 85 and older (5.5 million) has doubled since 1990. While the older population increases, the younger population is dramatically diversifying.
According to a recent article on the front cover of USA Today, “One of the most significant demographic trends of the past 20 years is the explosive growth of Hispanics.” Half of the population growth in the United States over the past 20 years is from the 30 million person increase in the Hispanic population. One in six Americans is Hispanic.
“An entire Venezuela’s worth of Hispanics was added in just those two decades.” said Robert Lang, urban sociologist, University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the article.
This growth is not just found in traditionally considered high Hispanic population states like California and Florida. In 1990, North Carolina’s population contained only 1% Hispanics, in 2010, the census showed almost 7%. The Hispanic population in Illinois has doubled in the past 20 years going from 7.9% to 15.8%.
While black and white racial relations saturate our nation’s history, 2003 marked the first year Hispanics surpassed African American in population numbers.
After the census figures release in 2000 it was predicted 2050 would be the year our population shifted to less than half non-Hispanic White. That timeline has now shifted to 2042.
Part of this dramatic diversification rate is due to a higher than average birthrate for Hispanic women (2.9 versus the national average of 2.1). Another significant reason is the increased number of people claiming more than one race.
The 2000 census marked the first year people were allowed to select two or more races on their form. Nine million people reported more than one race. Of marriages today, one in seven contains a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. Their bi-racial children will check more than one box on their next census form.
These latest census numbers represent changing times in our nation’s cultural, racial and ethnic history. In the USA Today article, William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization in Washington, DC, was quoted as saying, “The future is people of all races and ethnicities.”
Change is a beautiful thing.