California will soon become the biggest Hispanic state in America, with Latinos projected to become the largest ethnic group toward the end of the year.
Hispanics will overtake whites at 40 percent of the Golden State’s population, according to the office of Gov. Jerry Brown in a “Demographic Information” report attached to its new budget plan.
In July, the Hispanic and non‑Hispanic white populations will each represent 39 percent and later in the year Latinos will become the largest group since California became a state, according to the report released last week.
Demographics change coming earlier than projected
That milestone came a couple of years earlier than previous demographic projections.
Only in New Mexico, one of the country’ smallest states in population, will Hispanics represent a larger percentage—just under 47 percent.
Brown says the emergence of Latinos as the state’s largest ethnic group will call for policy changes in policy, the biggest in education.
“Three million California school age children speak a language at home other than English,” Brown says in talking about his budget proposal.
“This is an aging society and inequality is growing.”
Hispanics make up half the students
Latinos make up half the students in the state’s public schools—more than half in urban districts—and they that will see some of the biggest gains from Proposition 30 passed by voters in November.
For starters, the Cal State system will refund a $249 tuition hike to its 425,000 students and reconfigure financial aid packages as it reduces tuition downward to last year’s $5,472 rate.
“I’m very optimistic,” says Brown. “We have quite a big agenda facing us.”
The challenge facing California in fiscal policy is two-fold: Most of the state’s Latinos are young with heavy educational needs while the non-Hispanic white population is aging.
“We are expecting a big generation of baby boomers to age and to demand a lot of services,” said Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis. “From personal assistants to, you know, cooking, to home services.”
According to state demographers, by 2060 Latinos who now make up just under 40 percent of California’s population should be close to 50 percent while whites should be about 30 percent.
Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director for the Pew Hispanic Center, says that “in many respects, California looks like the future of the United States demographically.”
“Between 2000 and 2010, the nation’s Hispanic population grew by 43 percent,” says Lopez. “Alone, it counted for half of the nation’s population growth.”