The Latinx community’s relationship to the U.S. Census has been complicated for as long as we’ve been in this country. In 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau chose to include a citizenship question that put millions of undocumented immigrants at risk. However, it was overturned by the Supreme Court the following year. And just earlier this year, the Biden administration proposed adding Hispanic/Latino as a race on the census, which sparked debate about the difference between race and ethnicity in our community. Earlier this month, however, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a major shift when it came to their survey of the Latinx population in the U.S. As of now, Latinxs make up 1 in 5 Americans, about 19.1 percent of the population. Based on current trends, our numbers will continue increasing over the next four decades and by 2060, 1 in 4 Americans will be Latinx or 26.9 percent of the population, NBC News reported.
“The U.S. has experienced notable shifts in the components of population change over the last five years,” said Census Bureau demographer Sandra Johnson in a news release. “Some of these, like the increases in mortality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, are expected to be short-term while others, including the declines in fertility that have persisted for decades, are likely to continue into the future.”
These projections are based on four sets of scenarios created by the Bureau—most likely outcome, high immigration, low immigration, and zero immigration—and each of them is heavily affected by one of the largest reasons for the population shift: immigration. We continue to see millions of Latin American immigrants crossing the border into the U.S. because of destabilization, corruption, and extreme poverty in the region. In 2021, Mexican migrants made up 24 percent of the immigrant population in the U.S., followed by El Salvador, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala, and that percentage will only grow. While decreased birthing rates and an aging population will result in more overall deaths over the next few decades, the Bureau found that it is immigration that will ultimately sustain the U.S. population.
As a result, the U.S. population could reach 435 million by 2100 but only in a high immigration scenario. Most likely, it will reach 370 million by 2080, then drop to 366 million in 2100. All the while, if current trends are to be believed, the Bureau is predicting that the number of non-Latinx white people will continue decreasing, which has reportedly been on the decline since 2018. By 2060, white Americans will decrease from 58.9 percent to 44.9 percent.
These numbers are incredibly important not only for understanding population trends but also for shaping policies and planning out the distribution of resources in the coming years. We’re interested to see how else the Latinx population will change over the course of our lifetimes and beyond.