California's white population has declined since 2000 at an unprecedented rate, hastening the day when Hispanics will be the state's largest population group, according to newly released state figures.Some of these issues we have been hearing about for years. I'm not so much concerned about the racial or ethnic transformation as I am about the conditions that are causing people to either leave or not migrate to California. On top of that we know about the fiscal pressures facing that state as well!
There were half a million fewer whites in California in 2008 than in 2000, a period when the state's overall population grew by 4 million to 38.1 million, according to a study released Thursday by the state Department of Finance.
By 2008, whites made up 40 percent of Californians, down from 47 percent at the turn of the century. In 2000, Hispanics comprised 32 percent of the population; that number grew to 37 percent in 2008.
Analysts said the decline can be attributed to two main causes - a natural population decrease as Baby Boomers enter their later years and die at a faster rate than younger whites have children, and a migration from California since 2001 among whites who sought affordable housing as real estate costs soared.
The study also confirmed projections that a steadily growing Hispanic population will surpass whites as the state's largest racial demographic in 2016. Hispanics are expected to become a majority of all Californians in 2042, Heim said.
Most Bay Area counties reflected the state's shifting numbers - Alameda County, for example, dropped from 41 percent white to 36 percent - while showing spikes in Hispanic, Asian and multirace categories.
Yet, San Francisco's racial mix remained consistent. Forty-four percent of the city was white in 2008, 30 percent was Asian and 14 percent was Hispanic, just as it was in 2000. Only the city's African American population showed a slight decline, from 7 percent to 6 percent.
Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California, said white women in recent decades have tended to pursue higher-education degrees and stay in the workplace, leading them to have fewer children. The white population is now "below the replacement" level, Johnson said. "They're simply not replacing themselves."
Johnson said migration into California was a national trend until the 1990s, when the number of out-of-state transplants began to decline.
Lower-paid California workers headed to cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Seattle, where they could make similar wages but pay less for housing.
"California is no longer attracting large numbers of people from other states," Johnson said. "And a lot of those who did come to California from other states were white, reflecting the ethnic composition of the country as a whole.