Slowing Hispanic immigration and birth rates are shifting the USA's growth toward Asians, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.
For the second straight year, net immigration by Asians topped that of Hispanics, the agency reported. About 338,000 Asians immigrated to the USA in the 12 months ending July 1, 2013, up about 68% since the recession of 2007-09. About 244,000 Hispanics immigrated in that 12-month period, down about 60% from a peak that occurred in 2005-06, according to demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
"The Hispanic decline clearly has to do with the recession and its aftermath," Frey said. "The jobs that many Hispanic workers take are exactly the kind of jobs that have been slow to come back — construction, retail, service workers."
Stricter enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border also played a role, he said.
"Since the influx of non-Hispanic immigrants is less driven by unauthorized immigrant flows and not as dependent as Hispanics on the construction sector, it has served to expand the role of non-Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. labor market," according to a report issued last week by the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.
At the same time, the USA continued to age as more Baby Boomers edged into their retirement years and fewer babies and immigrants — typically young adults — took their place. The median age rose to 37.6, up 0.1 year from 2012 and 2.3 years since 2000.
The oil and gas boom created a strong counterpoint, drawing enough young workers to the Great Plains to lower the median age in Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. Alaska and Hawaii also saw their median ages drop.
In general, "the aging of the white population means the growth in the population will be minorities," Frey said.
Whites who are not Hispanic remain the largest group in the federal government's tally system at 62.6%, down slightly from 63% the previous year, the Census Bureau reported. They also are the oldest group and had more deaths than births for the second straight year. But immigration boosted their total by 0.1% to 197.8 million.
Hispanics, who may be of any race, topped 17% of the USA, or 54 million. Blacks and Asians make up 12% and 5%, respectively. American Indians and Native Hawaiians make up 1% and people of two or more races, 2%.