WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Hispanic population in the United States has grown to 50 million, becoming the largest minority with 16 percent of the population, according to US Census Bureau figures released Thursday.
The Hispanic population grew by 43 percent in the past decade, accounting for more than half of the 27 million increase in the total US population, which rose by nearly 10 percent to 308 million.
The white non-Hispanic population grew by just over one percent and its share of the total population fell from 69 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2010, according to a census report on population changes by race.
About 14 percent — or 42 million — of the total population reported their race as black, either alone or with another race.
Mixed-race people comprised 3 percent of the US population in 2010.
The Asian population also grew tremendously in the past decade, by 43 percent to a total of nearly 15 million people.
Among those under 18 years of age, 53 percent are white, 23 percent are Hispanic, and 14 percent are black.
The population shifts can impact US elections, like in 2008 when two of every three Hispanic voters chose Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in the presidential election, Hispanic advocacy organizations said.
Most Republicans generally oppose immigration reform legislation that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, most of whom are Hispanic.
“The (Republican Party) is becoming branded as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino by the fastest-growing group of voters in the nation,” said Frank Sharry, director of America’s Voice, an organization that usually supports Democrats on immigration issues.
Geographically, the west and south have seen the largest population increases in recent decades, attributed to immigration and migration from eastern US cities.
In 2010, nearly half — 47 percent — of the total population of the West was minority.
Among states, California led the nation with the largest minority population, at 22 million.
Between 2000 and 2010, Texas joined California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in having a “majority-minority” population, in which more than half of the population was part of a minority group, the Census Bureau said.
The eastern city of Detroit, in the state of Michigan, lost one-quarter of its population in the past decade, to the disbelief of some of its remaining residents.
“I don’t believe the number is accurate,” Dave Bing told National Public Radio in an interview in Detroit, population 714,000.