If demographics are destiny, the youngest Texans appear destined to make the state dramatically more diverse.
While white Texans still make up the largest racial group, the state's demographic future is in the hands of younger Texans, according to new age, race and ethnicity figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The estimates, which track population change from July 2014 to July 2015, show that older generations of Texas are more white while younger Texans are much more likely to be part of a racial or ethnic minority group.
Almost 68 percent of Texans aged 19 and younger are non-white. That's a reversal of the racial breakdown among Texans 65 and older, almost two-thirds of whom are white while only about 36 percent are people of color.
Both of those breakdowns stand in contrast to the state’s overall share of Texans — 57 percent — that are non-white.
The new figures, particularly the diversity among young Texans, fuel predictions that Texas may be the next state where Hispanics become a plurality, comprising the largest racial or ethnic group though not a majority. If that happens, Texas would join New Mexico and California.
As of July 2015, Hispanics made up 38.8 percent of the state's population while white residents made up 43 percent.
The state’s white, black and Hispanic populations all grew in size last year, but the overall share of white Texans continued to drop slightly. And it was the Hispanic population that grew the fastest.
Nationally, the continued growth of the Hispanic population is due largely to natural increase — Hispanic parents having more babies — and not immigration from other countries. Research by the state demographer has shown that while people born in Latin American countries continue to make up the largest group of immigrants in Texas, the rate at which they are moving to the state has decreased in the past decade.
Once again, Starr County — located in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border — had the highest share of Hispanics in the country with 95.8 percent, followed by several other border counties.
But the recent rapid growth in the Hispanic community is not limited to the border region.
The state's urban cores have seen consistent growth among the Hispanic population. Among the state's 25 most populous counties, suburban counties surrounding Houston, Austin and Dallas have experienced the fastest growth in Hispanic residents since 2010.
More: Hispanic population growth in Texas’ 25 most populous counties