LOS ANGELES - Whites will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2043 as the United States will for the first time become a majority of minority groups, the Census Bureau projects.
In its first set of projections based on the 2010 Census, officials also said the U.S. population would be considerably older by 2060. The nation is also expected to grow at a slower pace in coming decades. The nation's population, about 315 million in September, is expected to cross the 400 million threshold in 2051, hitting 420.3 million in 2060.
"The next half century marks key points in continuing trends - 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," Thomas L. Mesenbourg, acting director of the bureau, said.
Demographers have been expecting the proportion of the white population will decrease over time. Whites are expected to remain the largest single group but no longer constitute a majority by 2043, according to the census.
The official projection now places the tipping point for the white majority a year later than previous estimates, which were made before the impact of the economic downturn was fully known.
Minorities, now about 37 percent of the U.S. population, will grow to become 57 percent of the population by 2060. The total minority population would more than double, from 116.2 million to 241.3 million by 2060.
According to the census, the non-Latino white population is projected to peak in 2024 at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million this year. Unlike other groups, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.
While the number of whites is falling, other groups with higher birthrates are increasing, according to the projections released Wednesday. Latinos would more than double, from 53.3 million this year to 128.8 million in 2060. By the end of the projection period, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Latino, up from about one in six today.
The black population is projected to rise from 41.2 million to 61.8 million by 2060. The share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1 percent this year to 14.7 percent. The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million this year to 34.4 million in 2060, while its share of the nation's total population climbs from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent.
The population of those at least 65 years old is expected to more than double between now and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today.
In effect, there will be more elderly, who use more of the health-care system, to be supported by a shrinking proportion of the working-age population, those 18 to 64 years old.
The number of the working-age population is expected to increase by 42 million between this year and 2060, from 197 million to 239 million, but the share will fall from 62.7 percent to 56.9 percent, according to projections.