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The changing demographics of the U.S.

4 min read

Modern Money

The demographics of the U.S. population are changing dramatically. We are becoming a much more diverse society due to the growth of minority populations and immigration. Illegal immigration is a hot topic, generating strong feelings on both sides of the issue. The Office of Immigration estimates that 11 million illegal immigrants are living in the U.S. today; 3 million arrived in the past 10 years. Congress and President Barack Obama plan to introduce legislation to change the status of immigrants who are currently in the U.S. illegally. It is clear that immigration — regardless of status — is changing the demographic makeup of the U.S. population.

Where do the minority populations live? Do their locations vary by the minority racial or ethnic type?

According to Esri, a geographic information systems company, in 2012, 115.8 million people in the U.S. identify themselves as a minority race or ethnicity. This includes 52.8 million Hispanics, 39.5 million blacks, and 15.2 million Asians as well as other races which includes American Indian and Pacific Islanders.

Where do the minority populations live?

Minorities in general live in the Western and Southern U.S. However, not all minorities settle in the same places. High populations of Asians are located in large cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Washington D.C. Blacks live all across the U.S.; however, larger populations are found in California, along the Eastern Seaboard and all across the South. Hispanics are the largest minority group and are spread across the U.S. The highest concentrations are in California, Texas, Florida and along the Eastern Seaboard.

Click on image to enlarge interactive map.

Median age by minority group

The median ages of people in the U.S. vary by ethnicity and race. The median age of the total U.S. population is 37.3 years. The median age for Hispanics in the U.S. is 27.4 years — almost 10 years younger. The median ages of Asians and blacks are much closer to the U.S. median at 35.5 and 32.2 years, respectively. The young Hispanic population has a great effect on the U.S. in terms of services that the government may need to provide or products and services that companies may want to sell. The higher overall median age may be due to to large senior population in the U.S. of which the majority is white, non-Hispanic.

These interactive maps show the striking difference in the ages of populations — especially in areas where the minority population is high. For example, it is clear that in areas of high Hispanic populations, the median age in the area is lower than the U.S. median. This element further changes the area’s demographics not only in terms of race but also by age and other factors such as family size and the number of people living in a household.

Click on image to enlarge interactive map.

Click on image to enlarge interactive map.

Click on image to enlarge interactive map.

Why this matters

As minority populations increase, it is critical to understand not only their cultural differences but also their lifestyles and product preferences. Whether the increase is due to more births or immigration, the change in the population presents an opportunity for businesses and becomes a key issue for governments in funding programs.

By catering to the racial, ethnic and cultural differences in a diverse population, savvy businesses can expand their market share by providing products and services desired by each minority group. Knowing where minority populations are growing can position a business well ahead of its competitors. For example, multi-generational Hispanic and Asian households provide opportunities for builders to create different floor plans that accommodate young families and seniors living in the same household.

All levels of government must understand population trends that may affect their areas. Some cities have very small minority populations and do not yet need to change. Others have already adapted and still others are beginning to implement new services as their minority population grows. Understanding demographic attributes such as race and age can help governments develop the best programs for expanding minority populations. For example, population of young families would require additional services for child care, nursery schools and education as well as health care clinics for children and young families. The presence of older populations requires different services such as senior health care programs, Medicare facilities and senior centers.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at