US Population Growing at Slowest Rate in Over a Decade

For the first time in more than a decade, the U.S. population has grown by less than two million, according to the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) report. At the same time, the number of Americans that identify as two or more races has increased faster than any other ethnicity. 

The American Community Survey (ACS) has released its 2016 report. Much like the decennial census, the ACS is an annual study that yields numerical data regarding the U.S. population, including ethnic breakdown and nativity.

Non-Hispanic the Slowdown

The U.S. population dipped below an annual growth of two million individuals. This is an 84% decline relative to 2005-2006. Much of this can be attributed to the non-Hispanic white segment. This was the only demographic to shrink, falling by more than 67,000. While low (and even negative) growth is typical of this group, it’s far from the norm for other segments.

Last year’s figures indicate these are low for both Hispanics and Asians. This is the first time the Hispanic population increased by less than a million in over a decade. Similarly, Asian growth fell by nearly half to a six-year low.

Mixed Race Population Experiences High Growth

On the other hand, the mixed-race population rose by 3.8%, the highest growth seen since 2010. This isn’t an anomaly, but rather the high point of a longstanding shift. For the past decade, they’ve been among the fastest-growing ethnic groups.

It’s curious that whatever factors slowed the growth of other segments, didn’t appear to impact the mixed-race population, which grew by more than twice the rate of Hispanics and Asians.

This growth seems to affect some groups more than others. As we saw in our Modern Family study, Redefining ‘Traditional’ in America, Hispanics and Asians are the most likely to marry outside their ethnicity. Depending on their children identify, they might be counted as biracial for census purposes. Therefore, this year’s Hispanic and Asian growth numbers could constitute a re-categorization of population instead of a decline.

An Open Question on Immigration

The current presidential administration has vowed to adopt more stringent immigration policies, as illustrated by the recent travel  ban from eight countries. In 2016, 65% of Asians and over a third of Hispanics were immigrants, according to the ACS.

It’s possible that some prospective immigrants will find coming to the U.S. a less feasible option, whether due to anti-immigration rhetoric or official policy. If so, the deceleration by the Hispanic and Asian demographics—each of which contains a high proportion of immigrants—might continue.

Still, it’s important to note that although their growth is slowing down, it’s still much higher than the that of non-Hispanic whites.

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