As it has so often, California the most populous state of the Union is foreshadowing a national trend. Non-Hispanic whites are expected to lose their majority status across the US by about the year 2050, marking one of the biggest demographic changes since the country was founded.
But an unexpectedly large increase, especially in the Hispanic population, over the past 10 years suggests that white Americans could lose their majority status sooner.
According to the census figures, 46.7 per cent of the state's 34 million population is non-Hispanic white. People classifying themselves as Hispanic constitute 32 per cent and people of Asian origin 12 per cent, up from 9 per cent 10 years ago. The proportion of blacks remained constant at 7 per cent.
Showing the striking growth in the Hispanic population, the census found that more than 43 per cent of under-18s in California are Hispanic, compared with 35 per cent a decade ago.
California is not the first state where whites are not in the majority. New Mexico with its large number of Hispanics, Hawaii with its indigenous population, and Washington DC, where the majority is black were all there first. But it is the largest state, and the one commonly hailed as reflecting America's future.