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US population to hit 300 million in October, 2006

The United States Census Bureau is running a computer simulation that calculates how many people live in the United States. Every 11 seconds, a new person enters the country, either by birth or by immigration. A lucky 50,000 each year get in by green card lottery.

The exact date will never be known, since it is an estimate based upon computer modelling, but sometime during October of this year, the 300 millionth person will be added to the U.S. population. And, the odds are very good that this person will be ethnic by race, very probably Hispanic by ancestry.

Currently Latinos - immigrants and those born in the U.S. - are the driving force behind U.S. population growth. Nearly half of last years population increase, more than any other ethnic or racial group, were persons of Hispanic origin. White non-Hispanics, who make up about two-thirds of the population, accounted for less than one-fifth of the increase.

This offers interesting opportunities for immigrants around the world ... if they happen to speak Spanish. Many companies are finding that Spanish-English bilingual employees are a new requirement to compete in the workplace. Combined with other languages and skills, persons fluent in Spanish at several levels are in demand.

Not only are employment opportunities increasing, but entire businesses are starting up built around translation and education services. Legal services are required, as well as books, internet, news and entertainment media, and basic labelling requirements for food and pharmaceuticals, to name a few examples. Depending on a persons specialized education, phone service for credit cards, information or tax advice are other interesting possibilities.

American-based business is waking up to the importance of the purchasing power of the Latino community.

In 1967 the population reached 200 million, but no accurate tally of U.S. Hispanics was included in the statistics. The first effort to count Hispanics came in the 1970 census, and the results are unclear due to methodology of the time. The best estimate about 9.6 million Latinos (U.S. born and immigrants combined), a little less than 5 percent of the population, and may have actually been a bit high.

In 1967, there were fewer than 10 million people in the U.S. who were born in other countries, not even one in 20. White non-Hispanics made up about 83 percent of the population. In 2006, however, there are 36 million immigrants, about one person in eight.

A baby is born every eight seconds, someone dies every 13 seconds, and someone migrates to the U.S. every 30 seconds. At that rate, the 300 millionth person in the U.S. will be born - or cross the border - sometime in October.

Hispanics surpassed blacks as the largest minority group in the 2001, and today make up more than 14 percent of the population.

The growth of the Latino population promises to have profound cultural, political and economic effects.

Many people are embracing the changes, but many fear it, as evidenced by the national debate on immigration. The growing number of Hispanics is closely tied to immigration because about 40 percent of all Hispanics are immigrants. It is estimated that of the 36 million (perhaps up to 40 million by some counts) in the U.S., between 10 and 11 million are illegal.

The U.S. added 2.8 million people last year - a little more than a million from immigration and about 1.7 million because births outnumbered deaths, an increase of just under 1% per year. The U.S. is the third largest country in the world, after China and India, and will stay in third place for some time to come.

For reference, the entire world population is just over 6.5 billion, growing a little faster than 1 percent a year.

By the time the U.S. population hits 400 million, in the 2040s, white non-Hispanics will probably be a bare majority. Hispanics are projected to make up close to one-quarter of the population, and blacks more than 14 percent. Asians will increase their share of the population to more than 7 percent.

Those percentages, however, are just projections. They are subject to big revisions, depending on immigration policy, cultural changes and natural or manmade disasters.


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