Economy

California's Latino and Asian populations rise while white declines

California's ethnic mix is shifting, and not only because of the rising numbers of Latinos and Asians. There are actually fewer white people living in the state than there were a decade ago.

The number of non-Hispanic whites in California has fallen by 850,000 since the turn of the century, from 15.8 million in 2000 to 14.95 million in 2010.

The Golden State's struggling economy is driving the trend, demographers say. Whites in general are having fewer children than they did a generation ago, in some cases because they feel they can't afford it. The result: White Californians are dying off faster than they are being born.

The tough economy also has fueled a white exodus. Hundreds of thousands of white people have left the state since the 2000 census. And unlike generations past, fewer whites from other states are moving to California to make their fortunes. The state has experienced a net loss of 700,000 whites to other states – and a net loss of 1.5 million people across all ethnic groups.

During that same period, the Asian and Latino populations soared in California. Bolstered by immigration and higher birthrates, the number of Latinos jumped by 3 million and the number of Asians rose by 1.1 million. The number of blacks held almost steady.

Already a majority-minority state, California is expected to have a Latino majority by 2025.

Outmigration is by far the biggest factor behind California's shrinking white population. Those jumping ship include rich people fleeing the state income tax, baby boomers seeking cheaper places to retire and residents who are poor or lack college degrees seeking jobs and more affordable housing.

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