The percentage of racial and ethnic minorities — people who identify as Hispanic, black, Asian, or "other" — in New Mexico eclipsed the percentage of white residents way back in 1994. California, New Mexico, and Texas weren't far behind.
And by the year 2060, a total of 22 states are projected to have what demographers call, somewhat oxymoronically, "majority-minority" populations.
Majority-minority tipping years
States of Change: The Demographic Evolution of the American Electorate, 1974-2060, a new report by the Center for American Progress, the American Enterprise Institute, and demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution, makes predictions for when the 22 states that are expected to be majority-minority by 2060 will each hit their tipping points, if they haven't already.
The authors based their calculations on the current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, the Census' 2014 National Population Projections and their own projections, to predict the year racial and ethnic minorities will become the majority in each state:
According to the report, four states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey — are set to tip in the 2020s. In the 2030s, Alaska, Louisiana, and New York will follow. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Virginia will obtain race-ethnic majority-minority status in 2040s. And Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington are on track to make it in the 2050s. (Hawaii is absent from the list because, under the criteria the researchers used, white people have always been the minority there, so it never needed a "tipping year" to achieve majority-minority status.)
When and if the remaining states hit their racial tipping points, it will be after 2060. But the report's authors also provide a list of 10 states that will be near (at least 40 percent) majority-minority by then: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Utah. That group is especially interesting because it includes a couple of states that aren't known for their racial diversity at all right now.
The report projects that the country as a whole will be majority-minority by 2044.
You can really get a sense of how things are going to change, just by comparing the amount of darker blue shading on the 2060 map to the amount in the 2014 map.
Majority-minority voting: When it will happen and what it means
The authors of the report also make predictions about when racial and ethnic minorities will make up not just the majority of the population, but a majority of eligible voters in each state. Here's what that shift will look like:
(This calculation doesn't line up perfectly with the population counts, which can include people who are too young to cast a ballot or aren't full citizens, but it does tend to follow the same patterns — again, just look at the dark blue shaded states on the 2060 map.)
The report predicts the changes in eligible voters will have "significant effects on the nation's voting electorate in all 50 states. " But it also come with a warning about drawing any conclusions about the consequences of these changes for a particular party: "Note that since minorities are not monolithic in their policy or political preferences and because, in any case, those preferences may change over time, any assumption that majority-minority states will adopt a unified policy or political orientation would be unwise."
Predicting the nation's demographic future
Released hand-in-hand with the report is an interactive tool that lets users graph the data and projected data on race/ethnicity, age, generation, education, and marital status, both for individual states and the entire country (and if you're interested in politics, you can also look at this data just for people of voting age, eligible voters, or registered voters).
Given the data on how many states are expected to move to majority-minority populations in the coming decades, it's no surprise that selecting race for the whole country shows the percentage of the white population — the red line, on the graph below — declining steadily through 2060, while the black population stays the same, and the numbers of Hispanic, Asian, and "other" Americans steadily increase.
You can play with the interactive tool and read the entire report at the Center for American Progress.