by BECCA AARONSON
More than half of the 2011 Texas population, 55.2 percent, was of a race other than non-Hispanic white, according to demographic data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That makes Texas one of five “minority-majority” states in the country. The release of new population estimates reveals that trend will continue to spread nationally, as 50.1 percent of babies younger than one in 2011 were a minority race.
“Texas, of course, has been at the forefront of that process,” said Steve Murdock, a demographer and professor at Rice University.
In 2000, 43 percent of Texas children younger than 18 were non-Hispanic white. In 2010, that number dropped to 34 percent. The new data for 2011 shows that percentage continuing to drop, as only 30 percent of Texas children under age 5 are non-Hispanic white.
Overall for Texas children under age 5, minorities outnumbered non-Hispanic white children 2.2 to 1 in 2011. The map below shows the ratio of minority to non-Hispanic white children under age 5 by county. Click on a county to see its specific figures.
“All 50 states — all 50 — had increases in the number of Hispanic children [from 2000 to 2010],” Murdock said. “We’re seeing a very dramatic change, but it’s a change that’s been taking place for a very long period of time.”
Of all counties in the nation, Maverick County (Eagle Pass) and Webb County (Laredo) had the highest and second-highest percentage of minority populations in 2011 at 96.9 percent and 96.4 percent, respectively, according to the census data. Although Los Angeles County in California had the largest Hispanic population, Texas’ Starr County, which lies along the border with Mexico, had the highest percent of Hispanics at 95.7 percent.
“As the baby boomers in Texas move into the mortality years, eventually you’re going to start seeing a contraction of the non-Hispanic white population,” said Lloyd Potter, the state demographer and a faculty member at the University of Texas San Antonio. “But because we have healthy growth in the minority population, Texas has a fairly healthy labor force, and I think it is a significant factor in the economic strength in Texas.”
Although the national fertility rate for non-Hispanic whites has dropped below replacement level, that population grew more in Texas than any other state since 2010 with an increase of 80,000. The black or African-American population also grew more in Texas than any other state since 2010, with an increase of 84,000.
Without the growing minority population, Potter believes Texas would resemble Japan or some of the northern European countries whose falling population has hurt economic growth. Both Potter and Murdock say the future of Texas and the nation is tied to how well this minority population develops.
“The future of the United States, like the future of states like Texas, is tied to its minority populations,” said Murdock. “How well they do is increasingly how well America will do.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.