U.S. census: Minorities in majority by 2043

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WASHINGTON -- White people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2043, according to new census projections. It's part of a historic shift that is reshaping the nation's schools, workforce and electorate, and is redefining long-held notions of race.

The official projection, released yesterday by the Census Bureau, now places the tipping point for the white majority a year later than previous estimates made before the impact of the recent economic downturn was fully known.

The United States continues to grow and become more diverse, with higher birthrates among minorities, particularly Hispanics. Since the mid-2000 housing bust, however, the arrival of millions of immigrants from Mexico and other nations has slowed.

The changes have political implications, shown in the re-election of President Barack Obama, who received support from 78 percent of nonwhite voters.

There are social and economic ramifications, as well. White plaintiffs before the Supreme Court argue that protections for racial and ethnic minorities dating to the 1960s may no longer be needed, from affirmative action in college admissions to the Voting Rights Act.

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Residential segregation has eased, and intermarriage for first- and second-generation Hispanics and Asians is on the rise, blurring racial and ethnic lines. By 2060, multiracial people are projected to more than triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million.

The non-Hispanic white population, now at 197.8 million, is projected to peak at 200 million in 2024, before entering a steady decline as the baby boomers enter their golden years. Four years after that, racial and ethnic minorities will become a majority among adults ages 18-29.

As recently as 1960, whites made up 85 percent of the population, but that share has steadily dropped after a 1965 overhaul of U.S. immigration laws opened doors to waves of new immigrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia. By 2000, the percentage of U.S. whites had slid to 69 percent; it now stands at nearly 64 percent.

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