Hispanics to soon surpass whites in California
In 2010, Hispanics were a majority in nine of California's 58 counties; by 2060, that could grow to 17, the finance department reported. Bill Schooling, chief of the department's demographic research unit, said counties with a strong Hispanic presence — like San Bernardino, Riverside and Kern, near Los Angeles — will be much younger than parts of Northern California and other remote areas.
The demographic trends show that California, like other states, will see its median age increase from the current 35 to 42 in 2060 but still be relatively young, thanks largely to Hispanics.
In 2030, there will be 9.6 million Hispanics in the prime working ages of 25 to 64, while whites will account for 7.2 million. By 2060, Hispanics will be the largest group from 25 to 64 by a wide margin — 12.1 million compared to 7.4 million whites.
"Due to California's diversity and because of its role as the primary gateway state for immigration, California will not age as rapidly in the coming 20 years as many other states," the report said.
California's population is expected to hit 50 million in 2049, from about 38 million today, led by steady growth in Southern California. The percentage of women in the state will continue to slightly outnumber the percentage of men, due to longer female life expectancies.
Dowell Myers, a professor of demography and urban planning at the University of Southern California, said the projected growth of Hispanics is slower than earlier state estimates, allowing more time for the state to adjust and providing a "calming effect." The state's overall population is also growing less rapidly than earlier projected.
"We're a state of minorities and we've been a state of minorities since 1999, when whites fell below 50 percent of the population," Myers said.
The report relied on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, California Department of Public Health vital statistics and surveys of county planning experts and regional government councils.
Spagat reported from San Diego.