THE PRESENT IS NOW

By Published on .

At around noon on Monday, July 12, 2004, the United States “POPClock� projection at the Census Bureau rested, ever so briefly, at 293,719,335. During the time it takes to write this note, including a few interruptions, that number will probably go up by about 500 or 600 or more people. On average, here's how:

  • Every eight seconds in the United States, there's a birth.
  • Every 12 seconds, there's a death.
  • Every 24 seconds, there's a new international migrant.
  • Net, net we gain a new person every 11 seconds.

These projections, which you can find at www.census.gov/cgi-bin/popclock, are real-time figures based on the Census 2000 count. Continue that count, albeit an artificially pre-programmed tally, to the year 2020, and you're face to face with the future.

Among the 335,805 million Americans the Census Bureau predicts for 15 years from now, some 54.6 million of us will be age 65 and older, versus about 35 million in that age group in 2000. The white non-Hispanic population will have grown a mere 2.4 percent during that decade and a half, while the Hispanic portion of our population will have increased 25 percent and the Asian portion 26-plus percent.

If aging and multicultural change power along into the future at such a clip, how do we begin to measure or get our brains around the equally profound changes in lifestyle, in technology, in ethics and culture we can expect by year 2020? To start, we decided to ask a stellar lineup of futurists to help us get an understanding beyond the numbers in “Foresight is 20/20� (page 32).

But, why get ahead of ourselves? They say the future is now, but so is the present, and the present, which as the Census POPClock tells us is a dynamic hive of constant change, is all about motion. Mobility is not what it once was even a year or two ago.

First, take a look at Peter Francese's drill-down into who's moving and why in “America's Gray Area Dilemma,� (page 40) and you'll see that among the 40 million annual movers, the worrisome trend is an exodus of young people from old communities in the Northeast and Midwest. Bill Frey's analysis “Zooming in on Diversity� (page 27) sorts out the important differences between immigration magnets and domestic migration magnets among Hispanics and Asians already living here. Matthew Grimm's “America's New Arcadians� (page 42) piece begins to hint at there being brand-new motivations for moving trends, beyond livelihood. Finally, Andrew Zolli's “A World of Talent,� (page 44) paints a picture of a talent on-demand economy that allows one to move anywhere and still do one's job.

One thing you can almost certainly bet on: Sometime between now and the year 2020, someone will assert that “staying put� is the new “moving.�

In this article:
Most Popular