Census: Amid diversity, California Asians gain ground

Taking in a ball game in Los Angeles. (Photo: Supanee Hickman)

California’s Asian population is the largest of any state in the nation, and its increase during a 12-month period was the largest in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state’s Asian population reached 6.3 million through last summer, the latest period for which data is available, reflecting a 162,000 increase over July 2013. California’s Asian population represents nearly a third of the nation’s 20.3 million.

The slow but steady increase in the Asian population has an impact on the group’s political clout: In 2014, there were a dozen lawmakers of Asian-Pacific Islander background in the Legislature, a record.

At 1.7 million, Los Angeles County had the largest Asian population of any of California’s 58 counties, plus the largest numeric increase, 29,000, since 2013.

The Census Bureau’s report reflects the demographic changes happening in California, a “majority-minority” state with no single ethnic group comprising the majority of its population. Nearly two-thirds of California’s population — 61.1 – are made up of members of minority groups reflecting a diversity unequaled anywhere in the country.

Los Angeles County also had the largest number of Hispanics, 4.9 million, of any county in the nation, and nearly a third of California’s 15 million total. Starr County on the Texas-Mexico border had the highest percentage of Hispanics, 95.8 percent. There are about 55.4 million Hispanics in the nation as a whole, according to the Census report.

California also had the largest American Indian and Alaska Native population of any state in 2014, 1.1 million, and the largest numeric increase since 2013, 13,000. Alaska had the highest percentage, at 19.4 percent.

California had the largest non-Hispanic white alone population of any state in 2014, 14.9 million, and Los Angeles had the largest non-Hispanic white alone population of any county 2.7 million, during the same period. Across the county, non-Hispanic whites totaled 197.9 million in 2014, an increase of 94,000, or 0.5 percent, during the prior 12 months.

California’s African American population represents about 6.5 percent of the state’s total 39 million inhabitants.

More from the Census Bureau:
For the first time, millennials outnumber baby boomers: America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers. Overall, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).

Five states or equivalents were majority-minority: Hawaii (77.0 percent), the District of Columbia (64.2 percent), California (61.5 percent), New Mexico (61.1 percent) and Texas (56.5 percent). Among the remaining states, Nevada is the closest to crossing this threshold, with a population 48.5 percent minority. More than 11 percent (364) of the nation’s 3,142 counties were majority-minority in 2014.Five reached this milestone during the year beginning July 1, 2013: Russell, Ala.; Newton, Ga.; Eddy, N.M.; Brazoria, Texas; and Suffolk city, Va.

The nation’s 65-and-older population grew from 44.7 million in 2013 to 46.2 million in 2014. This group, which now contains the oldest four years of the baby boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964), is 21.7 percent minority, is less diverse than younger age groups.

Between 2010 and 2014, Los Angeles County added 167,000 people aged 65 or older, the most of any county in the country.

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