Latinos surpass whites as largest ethnic group in California

Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn
Latinos have officially become the largest ethnic group in California, making it the third US state without a white majority. Texas is expected to reach the same milestone by the end of the decade.

According to the United States Census Bureau, California's milestone happened in the first half of 2014. The data was officially confirmed by a tally released in late June.

That tally showed that as of July 1, 2014, about 14.99 million Latinos were living in California, compared to 14.92 million white people. More Latinos – 4.9 million – live in Los Angeles County than in any other US county.

The numbers come as no surprise to demographers, who expected California to reach the milestone in 2013, or even earlier. However, slowing birthrates delayed that date.

"This is sort of the official statistical recognition of something that has been underway for almost an entire generation," said Roberto Suro, director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at USC, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

Suro said the trend is “going to accelerate,” adding that “this is really the beginning of a new phase that will play out over another generation.”

California follows the lead of New Mexico and Hawaii, neither of which have a white majority.

Latinos have outnumbered whites in New Mexico since 2003, currently comprising 47.7 percent of the state’s population.

The majority of Hawaii's residents are Asian (37.7 percent), compared to a 26.6-percent white population.

But it isn't just California that has seen a surge in its Latino population – the entire country's Latino population grew by 1.2 million from 2013 to 2014, reaching a nationwide total of 55.4 million. The boom is mostly attributable to high birth rates, and partly to immigration.

The nationwide Latino population is expected to grow from 17.4 percent of the US population to 30 percent by 2060.

Texas is on track to become the next state with a Latino majority, most likely reaching the milestone by the end of the decade. The state's Latino population grew by 228,000 between 2013 and 2014.

The booming Latino numbers are also affecting the political landscape, with the Latino electorate expected to double within a generation.

The Latino population has already been in the spotlight ahead of the 2016 presidential election, with presidential candidate Donald Trump making controversial statements about Mexican immigrants who come to the US and allegedly commit crimes.

The confirmation of California's evolving demographics come just one week after astudyfound that the US is the world's second-largest Spanish speaking community, behind Mexico, with more Spanish speakers than Spain.