Since the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 and the start of the Colonial period, the U.S. has been predominantly white.
But the white share of the U.S. population has been dropping, from a little under 90% in 1950 to 60% in 2018. It will likely drop below 50% in another 25 years.
White nationalists want America to be white again. But this will never happen. America is on its way to becoming predominantly nonwhite.
Who is white?
The U.S. federal government uses two questions to measure a person’s race and ethnicity. One asks if the person is of Hispanic origin, and the other asks about the person’s race.
U.S. Census Bureau
Whites were not the first people to settle in what is now the U.S. The first immigrants were a people known today as American Indians and Alaskan natives, also commonly referred to as Native Americans. They arrived in North America around 14,000 years ago.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in America in 1492, there were around 10 million American Indians living in the lands north of Mexico. But by the 1800s their numbers had dwindled to about 1 million. They are now the smallest race group in the U.S.
The first sizable stream of immigrants to what is now the U.S. were whites from England. Their arrival at Plymouth in 1620 in search of religious freedom marked the start of large waves of whites coming to this land.
When the U.S. was established as a country in 1776, whites comprised roughly 80% of the population. The white share rose to 90% in 1920, where it stayed until 1950.
The proportion of whites in the U.S. population started to decline in 1950. It fell to gradually over the years, eventually reaching just over 60% in 2018 – the lowest percentage ever recorded.
Although the majority of the U.S. population today is still white, nonwhites account for more than half of the populations of Hawaii, the District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, Texas and Nevada. And, in the next 10 to 15 years, these half dozen “majority-minority” states will likely be joined by as many as eight other states where whites now make up less than 60% of the population.
Census Bureau projections show that the U.S. population will be “majority-minority” sometime between 2040 and 2050. Our research suggests that this will happen around 2044. Indeed, in 2020, there are projected to be more nonwhite children than white children in the U.S.
The nonwhite population is growing more rapidly than the white population. Minorities accounted for 92% of the U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2018, with Latinos comprising just under half of the nation’s overall growth.