The U.S. Census Bureau says the Hispanic population has grown to more than 45 million people, and now represents 15 percent of the total population in the United States.

Census Bureau statistics released Thursday show the Hispanic population grew by more than three percent (1.4 million) in the year ending July 1, 2007.

Officials say 16 U.S. states have Hispanic populations of more than 500,000, led by the west coast state of California, the southwest state of Texas and the southeastern state of Florida. They also say births -- not immigration -- are the main reason for the increase in the Hispanic population.

The statistics show blacks are the second largest minority group in the U.S. (more than 40 million), followed by Asians (more than 15 million).

The states of Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas, along with Washington D.C. have populations where minority groups make up the majority of the population.

According to the Census Bureau, non-Hispanic whites now account for 66 percent 199 million of the total U.S. population of about 301 million people.

Some immigration experts say the growth of the Hispanic population could have major implications for the education system. They say many local school systems may not have the resources in place to meet the needs of Hispanic students, who may come from homes that do not speak English.