Nation on track to be "majority minority" - Census Bureau
New data likely to reignite debate over race and culture
Hispanics, Asians fastest growing minority groups
WASHINGTON, USA - For the first time, there are more black, Hispanic and other minority babies being born in the United States than white babies, according to government data released on Thursday that officially confirm what has been a long-growing trend.
U.S. Census Bureau data show the United States is on its way to becoming "majority minority," with almost half of all young children currently from minority groups, including Hispanic, black and Asian.
As of July 1, 2011, 50.4 percent of babies younger than age 1 were minorities or of more than one race, up from 49.5 percent in 2010, the data showed.
For children younger than age 5, 49.7 percent were a minority or mixed race last year, up from 49.0 percent in 2010, according to the agency, which tracks the U.S. population.
While the country has long been on course to see whites lose their majority, the latest figures make it clear that the next generations of Americans will look far different than today.
The figures are also likely to reignite debate over what it means to be an American in an election year where race, poverty and immigration are hot-button campaign issues.
More than half of all residents in Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, D.C. were minorities as of last year, the agency found.
Overall, 36.6 percent of the U.S. population were minorities in 2011 compared to 36.1 percent in 2010. The 197.5 million whites still made up nearly two-thirds of the nation, the Census Bureau said.
The largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States last year remained Hispanics at 52 million, or nearly 17 percent of the nation's population. The black population was 43.9 million.
Asians were the second-fastest growing population, growing 3 percent to 18 million.
There were 6.3 million American Indian and Alaska Native residents and 1.4 million Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.
Some experts on race and ethnicity say current immigrants are far less likely to "melt" into U.S. culture, while others say today's minorities may soon see their heritage blend as whites did. Generations ago there were not "whites" but European groups that were identified as Irish, German, Italian and Greek, among others.
The growing Hispanic population and related immigration concerns, particularly in southern states that border Mexico, are expected to be major issues in November's presidential and congressional elections.