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The Changing Face of America

February 5, 2013

Anyone over the age of 30 has probably noticed that television shows, advertising, and even customers at grocery stores look different than they did a decade ago. The early findings of the 2010 U.S. Census tell us why. The population has changed dramatically since 2000. The American melting pot has become more diverse than ever before, largely due to immigration from Latin America and Asia.

What does this mean to real estate agents? If you are planning to stay in this business for another ten years or more, you should prepare now to serve a multicultural base of clients, no matter where you reside in the U.S.

The big picture

The 2010 U.S. Census found that 308.7 million people reside in the United States, an increase of 27.3 million, or 9.7 percent, over the count in 2000. Topline findings include:

  • The population has gotten older. The segment of people age 55 through 65 grew by 50 percent. The median age is now 37.2, up from 35.3 ten years ago.
  • Among those who own homes, average household size is 2.65 people.
  • Average family size is 3.14 people.
  • Owner-occupied homes make up 65 percent of occupied housing; 35 percent are rented.

The real news is that the ethnic population is growing rapidly, and data for minority groups looks different from the population as a whole. Minorities grew to be 36 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, up from 31 percent 10 years earlier. The largest minority groups were Hispanics (16 percent), African Americans (12 percent) and Asians (5 percent). White Non-Hispanics were less than two-thirds of the population.

Asian and Hispanic growth skyrockets

As the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S., Asian and Hispanic populations each increased 43 percent since the last census, four times faster than the general population. All minority groups grew in the double-digits, while White Non-Hispanics grew just 1 percent between 2000 and 2010.

In fact, nearly three in four (72 percent of) new residents added since the last census were either Hispanic or Asian. The Hispanic population accounted for more than half of the nation’s growth (56 percent) between 2000 and 2010, while Asians drove 16 percent of that growth. White Non-Hispanics comprised only 8 percent of new residents.

Immigration is driving U.S. growth

The biggest single factor in population growth is immigration from Latin America and Asia. Immigrants and their children make up the vast majority of Asians and Hispanics in the U.S. today. In 2009, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all Asians living in the U.S. were foreign-born, as were 40 percent of Hispanics. Immigration’s impact is even more dramatic when looking at these groups by generation. Over nine in ten (93 percent of) Asians and two-thirds (67 percent) of Hispanics in the U.S. are first- (foreign-born) or second-generation residents.

Overall, about 27 percent of immigrants in the U.S. arrived in or after 2000.

Minorities and age

The most striking demographic difference between the minority and majority population is age. Median age for Hispanics is currently 27.3 years; for Asians, 34 years; but for White Non-Hispanics, 41.2 years.

Minority groups tend to be a larger part of up-and-coming generations. Over 40 percent of Generation Xers and Millennials (currently ages 25–44 and 5–24, respectively) are minority. Baby Boomers (age 45–64) are 73 percent White Non-Hispanic. Asians and Hispanics comprise the majority of minorities in all age sets. If you assume that most of the people buying homes in the next two decades are now under the age of 44, then more than one in four will be Hispanic or Asian.

The rural landscape

Rural counties and states are hotbeds of minority and immigrant growth. Minority populations grew by double-digit rates in all but three states. In a change from the last century, the growth rate was often highest in rural states.

Before 2000, most immigrants were drawn to existing communities in six large gateway states: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. As of 2009, about half of all immigrants lived in non-gateway states. Between 2000 and 2010, the foreign-born popula­tion increased by more than 50 percent in nine states, including South Carolina, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

For an example of the boom in rural Hispanic and Asian populations, consider new census data for the town of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Since 2000, the number of Asians has grown by 307 percent and Hispanics by 136 percent. To look up your area, go to factfinder2.census.gov and click “View 2010 Census tables.” Next, select Table GCT-PL1, titled “Race and Hispanic or Latino: 2010 - State—Place” and enter your state.

Since the 2000 Census, the Hispanic population more than doubled its size in one in four U.S. counties. About one in ten counties are now “majority-minority,” that is, minorities compose 50 percent or more of the total population. Among states, Texas, Hawaii, New Mexico and California have a “majority-minority” population, as does the District of Columbia.

Household characteristics

More Asian and Hispanic households are married and larger in size than White Non-Hispanic households. These numbers reflect not only more children in Hispanic households, but also more multi-generational families in Hispanic and Asian groups.

Looking forward

Projections based upon 2010 data have not yet been released, but the Census Bureau recently published population estimates by race, using interim surveys and lower-than-current immigration rates. Findings include:

  • By 2030, the U.S. population is expected to be 366 million, up 18.8 percent overall.
  • Asians and Hispanics will have grown by more than 50 percent and will account for over 28 percent of the population.
  • White Non-Hispanics are expected to shrink to about 56 percent of U.S. residents by 2030.
  • By 2050, the United States is predicted to be a “majority-minority” nation.

3 Key Takeaways for Global Agents

  1. Most of the population growth in the U.S. since 2000 has been in the Hispanic and Asian segments.
  2. A strong influx of young immigrants has been the driver of growth in these groups.
  3. Among the next generation of home buyers (those now under age 44), about one in four will be Asian or Hispanic.