Report predicts shifts in nation’s racial mix



WASHINGTON (AP)—The Census Bureau predicts radical shifts in the nation’s racial and ethnic balance that will change the face of America from the classroom to Congress.

A study issued Tuesday by the nation’s statistical agency projects:

_Hispanics in 2010 will replace blacks as the nation’s largest minority group.

_Non-Hispanic whites will barely cling to their majority status.

_Asian Americans will triple the number of their births from today.

The Census Bureau report showed minorities and the population as a whole growing faster than previously expected. A smaller military abroad and new birth, death and immigration information caused demographers to make the revisions.

The bureau estimated the U.S. population will reach 392 million by 2050. That’s 52 percent more than the 258.7 million Americans today.

Non-Hispanic whites’ share of the population will drop from 76 percent now to 68 percent in 2010 and 53 percent in 2050. Their number will increase from 188.6 million to 205.8 million.

For minorities, it will be more than half a century of growth:

_Hispanics, from their present 9 percent of the population to 14 percent in 2010 and 23 percent in 2050.

_Blacks, from 12 percent today to just over 13 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2050.

_Asian Americans, now 3 percent of the population, to 10 percent at mid-century. They will remain the fastest growing racial group.

_American Indians, from a little below 1 percent to slightly above 1 percent. Although their share barely changes, their numbers will double from 2.1 million to 4.3 million.

Hispanics are defined by the Census Bureau as an ethnic group, not a race. That means they include people from all the racial classifications: American Indians, Asian Americans, blacks and whites. Hispanic blacks, for example, are expected to comprise about 1 percent of the population in 2050.

The report said births accounted for about two-thirds of the projected Hispanic increase; immigration accounts for the rest.

The number of Hispanic births will double by mid-century, the Census Bureau said. Hispanic women now bear 2.9 children on average, the highest rate of any major ethnic or racial group.

The birth rate for non-Hispanic white women is 1.9. The Census Bureau projects white births will decline until 2010 and then start to increase.

Black births are expected to increase steadily by 60 percent between now and 2050, and Asian births are likely to triple. American Indian births will increase by half.

The nation’s schools, even more than today, will need to figure out how to teach classes where Spanish, not English, predominates.

‘‘Most Latino groups and most Latino citizens who are here say they feel it is important to learn English,’‘ said Sonia Perez, senior policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, an Hispanic interest group. ‘‘It suggests bilingual education becomes more important.’‘

Congress will find new issues on its legislative agenda because of changes in the electorate.

‘‘The mushrooming numbers should translate into a much more vigorous political clout, with more Hispanic members of Congress,’‘ said Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat and leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. ‘‘These are not abstract numbers to us at all. They are a window into the future.’‘