California is growing older and more diverse.
The Latino population is projected to surpass that of whites in California in March to become the single largest “race or ethnic group,” according to a report on shifting demographics in Gov. Jerry Brown‘s 2014-15 budget proposal. Also, the number of residents 65 and older will jump by 20.7 percent over the next five years, the report said.
State demographers expected Latinos to surpass the non-Hispanic white population seven months earlier, but Latino birth rates were lower than anticipated. Now, officials say, by March Latinos will make up 39 percent of California’s population, edging out non-Hispanic whites at 38.8 percent. Nearly 25 years ago, non-Hispanic whites made up 57 percent of the state, while Latinos made up 26 percent.
The state’s Department of Finance includes the projections in the governor’s budget proposal because of the potential economic impact, such as the increase in retirees affecting the scope of services needed for an aging population, or income disparities among minority groups increasing the need for social or educational programs.
“Demographic changes that are coming will reshape the electorate, and in turn that will likely have impacts on policies and issues that decision makers focus on in the coming decades,” said Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.
Geographic data for the state’s 58 counties show the Bay Area is leading the state in economic and population growth, said Bill Schooling, chief demographer for the state Department of Finance. Statewide, coastal cities are growing faster than the Central Valley.
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