The 2010 census is being released in a very different world than its predecessors. The amount of real-time data on populations and demographics is exploding. And it now receives competition for the spotlight from its younger sibling, the annual American Community Survey, which makes up with timeliness what it loses in margin of error.
That said, having access to the final, hard numbers gives researchers and planners the ability to quantify exactly how much these trends are taking hold and what areas are seeing the most impact. Some patterns have crept up on us, and some have turned out to be even bigger than suspected. Here are five findings everyone in the business should be aware of.
1. There are 1.2 million fewer children in the Northeast and Midwest than there were in 2000. That meant a 3.1% decline for the Midwest and a 5.5% drop for the Northeast. By contrast, the South gained about 2.2 million children and the West picked up about 900,000. Nearly all of that growth was driven by minority populations -- 1.6 million newborns were either Hispanic, Asian or multiracial. Between 2000 and 2010 those two regions dropped 2.6 million white, non-Hispanic children and about 225,000 African-American children. This alters a trend seen in previous Census data. In the 1980s and 1990s the growth in the Hispanic population came primarily from immigration. Now it is from native births, said Mark Lopez, the associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.
This trend is compounded by the aging of the majority, non-Hispanic white population (and African-Americans as well) out of the child-bearing age range. Another factor was the high out-migration of young adults and their children from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West regions. Moving to warmer climates isn't just for retiring boomers anymore.
This is likely to have negative consequences for consumer spending in states with so many fewer children. Married couples with children have the highest income of any household type, and on average, the income of a family with children is at least $10,000 higher than that for all households. They also tend to outspend other household types, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The changing picture of the child population also starts to give marketers a preview of Census 2020 and 2030, which will continue the trends of increasing diversity, perhaps even faster than current estimates. Elizabeth Ellers, exec VP-corporate research at Univision Communications, likened this to the Baby Boom, which was a "trend that started in 1945 but still playing out." It will affect every product category at some point in the coming generations.
2. Minority populations grew eight times faster than the majority white, non-Hispanic population. White, non-Hispanic adults edged up 4.4% nationwide from 2000 to 2010. By contrast, all other adults including Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans and other races increased 32.2% and accounted for nearly three-quarters (74%) of all U.S. growth among the population ages 18 or older.
White, non-Hispanic children under age 18 declined 9.8% between 2000 and 2010, while Hispanic children or children of other races increased 36.5%. One key exception was African-American children, who also declined, but at a slower (2.3%) rate. White, non-Hispanic children declined in every state except four: Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah, and, oddly, the District of Columbia. It's strange that non-minorities would be increasing in D.C., a city that's 50% African-American.
An aging and slow-growing white, non-Hispanic population with fewer children is important because it happens to be the consumer segment with the most money and the highest level of spending on goods and services. They may be 67% of U.S. adults, but they are a full 80% of the households with an annual income of $100,000 or more. And white, non-Hispanics who are married with kids are the highest earners and spenders of all.
This might be especially troubling for the "short term" of the next decade or so. By definition, half of all households made less than the median, but that number was 60% for Hispanic households, compared to just 46% for households headed by non-Hispanic whites. In the long run, immigrant populations tend to catch up economically.
"I see nothing in the data to suggest that any of these groups will become a permanent underclass," said Barry Chiswick, chairman of the economics department at George Washington University and author of "The Economics of Immigration."
"If you called me in 1890, you'd be saying, 'There are large increases of Jews, Italians and Greeks. They don't know much English, they don't have many skills. They have little chance of doing well,'" he said.
3. Hispanics are more highly concentrated than the headline about their rapid nationwide growth would suggest. According to the 2010 Census results, nearly half of all U.S. Hispanics live in just two states: California, where 28% live, and Texas, where 19% live. Three-quarters live in just eight states, each with more than 1 million Hispanic residents. Those are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado.
The ninth-largest Hispanic population state (New Mexico) is remarkable because it has the highest density of U.S. Hispanics. Almost half (46%) of that state's population is Hispanic, while just 41% is white, non-Hispanic. Nevada has only about 716,000 Hispanics but they represent 26.5% of the total population.
When marketing to any market segment, large numbers are important but so is density. The Hispanic population isn't at a critical mass yet in most places, but that's starting to change. The majority of states now have at least a 5% Hispanic population and 17 states have more than 10% -- up seven states from 2000. "Nearly every county in the U.S. had Hispanic population growth," said Mr. Lopez. Univision's Ms. Ellers said that many marketers seem to be paying more attention now that the Hispanic population has hit the magic number of 50 million. Planners are looking at how to reach this target in areas not traditionally thought of as Hispanic. "It's not just the five top markets and you don't have to worry about anything else," she said.
Only one of the 100 largest cities in the U.S (Arlington, Va.) had its Hispanic population decline in the past decade. Most saw double- or triple-digit increases. But in all but Spokane, Wash., the white population makes more than the Hispanic population.
4. The Asian population is the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S., but it is even more highly concentrated than the Hispanic population. There are now 14.5 million Asians living in the U.S., up 43% since 2000. One-third of all U.S. Asians live in California and another 10% live in New York state. The Asian-adult population rose 47%, but Asian children also increased rapidly and are up 31% since 2000. Texas, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii each have more than half a million Asian residents.
This population is important because Asian median household income is the highest of any racial category and is 1.4 times the median for all households. It is also 26% above the median income of white, non-Hispanic households. But equally important is that 35% of Asian households are married with children, compared to just 21% of white, non-Hispanic households. Asians are the only race or ethnic market segment that is both rapidly growing and affluent. Asian immigrants typically are highly skilled and educated, compared to other immigrant groups, said Mr. Chiswick.