Population continues to age, become more diverse.
The non-Hispanic white population remains the majority in the U.S.--but in new data from the Census Bureau, this demographic was the only group that didn't grow from 2016 to 2017. Whites declined by 0.02% to a total of around 198 million people.
Among other racial groups, Asians were found to be growing at the fastest pace, 3.1%--and numbered 22.2 million in 2017.
Nationally, the population of all race and ethnic groups, except for the non-Hispanic white alone group, grew between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017. The Hispanic population increased 2.1% to 58.9 million. The black, or African American, population increased 1.2% to 47.4 million. The Asian population increased 3.1% to 22.2 million. The American Indian or Alaska Native population increased 1.3% to 6.8 million. The Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander population increased 2.1% to 1.6 million.
The population of those Two or More Races increased 2.9% to 8.7 million. The white alone-or-in-combination population increased 0.5% to 257.4 million.
The U.S. population is also getting older. The Census Bureau's new estimates show that since 2010 the median age in the U.S. grew from just over 37 years to 38. That's because baby boomers and Millennials are aging, as the country's birth rate keeps declining.
The smallest number of seniors were in Utah (10.8%)--which also had the lowest median age (30.9 years). The next-smallest percentages of seniors were in Alaska (11.2%) and the District of Columbia (12.1%).
In addition, data from a study the Applied Population Lab (APL) found that deaths among white people exceeded white births in the nation as a whole for the first time in U.S. history in 2016.
That study cites data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the APL which is part of the University of Wisconsin and often works with the Census Bureau through the State Data Center Program.
"The white natural loss of 39,000 in 2016 compares to a natural gain of 393,000 in 1999," the APL report said of the broader trend. As for what's behind the drop in the white population size, the APL identified two trends that it said are "accelerating the incidence of white natural decrease."
The first is a big drop in U.S. fertility that hit the country as it went through the Great Recession --some 500,000 fewer babies are now being born annually than would have been expected, and almost 2.1 million women of childbearing age have remained childless.
The second trend is an increasing mortality rate among whites from 30 to 59 years old, in what are often deemed "deaths of despair" --deaths that are found to be from such causes as suicide, accidental drug overdose and alcohol.
"In fact, such deaths of despair were the difference between natural increase and natural decrease in eight of the 26 states with white natural decrease in 2016," the APL stated.
As for where those changes are happening, the study noted, "state-level white natural decrease is occurring in populous states with diverse economies and numerous metropolitan areas such as California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and, more recently, in Ohio and Michigan."
It added that the white decrease has been an ongoing process for at least the past decade in some states, citing Rhode Island, West Virginia, New Mexico and Connecticut.
Approximately half (51.4%) of the nation's 531 counties that were getting younger between April 2010 and July 2017 were in the Midwest, according to newly released 2017 population estimates. Out of the counties that were getting younger, the South also had a high proportion (32.4%) of the counties that experienced a decrease in median age--the age where half of the population is younger and the other half is older--followed by the West (14.1%), and the Northeast (2.1%).
"Nationally, almost 17% of counties saw a decrease in median age from April 2010 to July 2017. The majority of the counties getting younger were in the Midwest, and of these counties with 10,000 people or more in July 2017, some of the largest decreases were in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska," said Molly Cromwell, a demographer at the Census Bureau. "Williams County, N.D., had the largest decrease in median age, declining by 7.1 years."
Despite the decrease in median age in many of the Midwest's counties, a majority of counties in the country continued to grow older. This continued aging of the country is consistent with the projected changes to the nation's population through 2060.
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