California will no longer be a white-majority state by the end of this year: a new report predicts the Hispanic population will be equal to whites as early as July, and outnumber them by the end of the year.
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 budget proposal revealed the new ethnicity trends while also outlining declining birth rates. In July, the most populous US state will be about 39 percent Hispanic and 39 percent white, with the former being predominantly younger.
Eighty percent of California Hispanics are younger than 50, while only 73 percent of non-Hispanic whites are, the report says.
“One of the positive attributes of California’s cultural diversity is that not everyone gets old at once,” the report states. “That also means the workplace will change, as many in the non-Hispanic white population retire, they will be replaced by a more diverse workforce.”
Nationwide, Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic and by the time 2013 comes to an end, they will make up the majority in California. In New Mexico, the majorities have already shifted, with Hispanics making up 46.7 percent of the population and non-Hispanic whites making up 40.2 percent.
The report claims that the numbers will rise at a faster rate when the economy improves, with an annual growth of 340,000 Hispanics in California, most of which will be born there.
“It’s a seismic shift, period,” Larry Gerston, professor of California politics at San Jose State, told the Huffington Post. “We’re talking about demographic changes that will be reflected in a demographically changed legislature.”
Hispanics have already gained a greater ‘political muscle’ in California by making up 20 percent of the electorate in the 2012 election, Gerston said. In 1998, the Hispanic population made up only 12 percent of the electorate. With 5.9 million eligible Hispanic voters, the ethnic group has the ability to sway the outcome of elections – especially if more chose to register. Those who do choose to vote have most often identified with Democrats, making it difficult for political figures to gain support without addressing Hispanic concerns.
“Latinos are a window for the GOP that’s rapidly closing,” Gerston said. “Unless Republicans can pick issues that Latinos can identify with, it’ll be almost impossible for them to gain a majority.”
Even though birth rates are low, Hispanics will be California’s largest ethnic group in just a few months, likely bringing Latino issues to the political forefront as the former minority gains a greater voice in America’s most populous state.