Minority groups will make up more than half the nation's total population by 2044, and that change is expected to occur among children younger than 18 in just five years, according to new U.S. Census Bureau projections.

The non-Hispanic white population is forecast to remain the largest single group, but "no race or ethnic group is projected to have greater than a 50 percent share of the nation's total," the agency said in a report released Tuesday.

By 2060, non-Hispanic whites are projected to be 44 percent of the population, the report said. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites were 62.2 percent of the nation's population in 2014, according to the bureau.

Data2010 Census numbersSee alsoMore coverage: 2010 Census

The segment of the population younger than 18 is "even more diverse" than the nation's population as a whole and will "experience the majority-minority crossover in 2020," it said.

The racial and ethnic shifts are occurring primarily within the native-born population, said the report, "Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060."

"We're already a majority-minority for people under age 5. When we get to 2023, more than half the people under age 30 will be majority-minority," said William Frey, a demographer with the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and Population Studies Center and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. "It will quickly bubble up the age structure."

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What that means, he said, "is we really have to pay attention to this next generation."

"They're important because they are going to have to contribute to a labor force that is shrinking. The white working-age population is projected to decrease," Frey said. He called the new generation of young minorities "every bit as important for us as the Baby Boom was for us back in the '50s and '60s." Ensuring that these young people are prepared educationally should be a "big domestic policy for us," Frey said, noting that many studies show the schools they go to are "under-resourced."

Overall, the country's population is projected to increase from 319 million to 417 million from 2014 to 2060, the bureau said. The report forecast that by 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be age 65 and older, with that group growing from 15 percent of the nation's population last year to 24 percent by 2060.

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In addition, nearly 1 in 5 of the nation's total population will be foreign-born by that year. "These demographic changes, in terms of aging, are happening on Long Island right now and over the next 15 years," said John Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group.

Citing projections from Cornell University researchers for Long Island through 2030, Rizzo said declines are forecast in the 45- to 64-year-old age group, the segment expected to be employed, while the number of those ages 65 and older, with more retirees, is expected to rise.

"All of this underlines the importance of economic policies aimed at retaining working-age adults and planning for these demographic changes, some of which may be inevitable," Rizzo said. The projections, he added, "show what might be, not what must be, if appropriate economic policies are taken."

The bureau's projections represent "one possible outcome for the future that would occur only if all the assumptions hold true" on births, deaths and international migration, the report said.