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The Changing Face of the United States

Have you noticed the people around you lately? We’re rethinking the term ‘minority’ these days. Reports issued by the U.S. Census Bureau, Dept. of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Agency, show that rapid changes are afoot. And we’d best pay attention.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about aging baby boomers. But we’ve heard far less about growth of the nation’s so-called minority populations. Growth of racial and ethnic minority groups is set to overtake that of non-Hispanic White populations within the next 45 years. If you’re wondering why that should matter to you, consider the impact on economic growth.

Minority-owned businesses are important to the success of the U.S. economy. The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that today women- and minority-owned businesses contribute around 20% in revenues overall to the U.S. economy. Historically, such businesses participate in a wide variety of industries and have reported significant growth. Often that growth has outpaced other businesses.

Since 1997 the SBA Office of Advocacy estimates minority businesses grew 168% with an equally stunning 343% growth in revenues (after adjusting for inflation). Both Asian- and Black-owned businesses grew four times faster than their non-minority counterparts did, while Native American-owned businesses grew 12 times faster over a ten-year period.

So, you’re asking yourself, just who are these “minority business owners”? Anyone who considers themselves to be non-White: Asians, Native Americans, Alaskans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos, native Hawaiians and African Americans/Blacks. Where do they come from? America is the melting pot of the world! Many were born here; and over the past 10 years there’s been an increase in Hispanic and Asian immigration. Many newcomers earn their living by starting a business; often that business exports or has ties to the home country. Are they successful? By all accounts, extremely so, particularly among Asian business owners.

“The official population estimates now indicate that the Hispanic community is the nation’s largest minority community,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon in a 2003 press release. “This is an important event in this country; an event that we know is the result of the growth of a vibrant and diverse population that is vital to America's future.”

The 2000 Census showed other important trends. California, Hawaii, New Mexico and the District of Columbia now consider non-Whites their majority populations. Whites are moving from the cities to the suburbs; of the top 100 cities close to 20 would not have experienced any growth if their minority populations had not increased.

By 2015, non-Hispanic Whites will be a primarily elderly population, and by 2035 that group will be experiencing a negative growth rate. Racial and ethnic “minority” groups have a much younger median age, and by 2050 will account for nearly 90% of total population growth. The Census Bureau projects that by 2050 there will be 18 million more minorities than non-minorities under age 35.

These changes definitely will affect your applicant pool. And helping your employees interact effectively with people from all ethnic groups will be crucial. But also think about the impact beyond your applicants and your workforce. Your next supplier may well be a member of one of these groups. Your clients and your customers – in fact all consumers – increasingly will represent these population changes. Are you ready to meet their needs and expectations?

Population Growth Statistics (US Census Bureau)

US Census Bureau Fact Sheets

Want to know more? The U.S. Census Bureau has put together detailed demographic information about each minority group from the 2000 Census.


Blacks/African Americans


Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders

Native Americans/Alaskans

Gazelle Index Quarterly Business Confidence Reports

ING reports, published quarterly, provide detailed commentaries on the confidence of the nation’s fastest growing business sectors.


“What role do women, minority, and veteran entrepreneurs play in the economy?” Small Business by the Numbers, SBA, Dec 2003.

“Dynamic Diversity: Projected Changes in U.S. Race and Ethnic Composition 1995 to 2050,” U.S. Census Bureau report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (

“Hispanic Population Reaches All-Time High of 38.8 Million, New Census Bureau Estimates Show,” June 18, 2003. US Dept of Commerce press release.

Hobbs F, N Stoops, 2002. Demographic Trends in the 20th Century, US Census Bureau, Census 2000 Special Reports, Series CENSR-4 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office).

Humphreys JM. 2003. “The multicultural economy 2003: America’s minority buying power,” GBEC 63:2, Selig Center for Economic Growth (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia).

Minorities in Business, 1999. Office of Advocacy (Washington, DC: US Small Business Administration)


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