The U.S. population will grow older and more diverse over the next four decades, according to new Census Bureau projections presented Thursday at a meeting of demographers.
As the U.S. median age increases, there will be a smaller ratio of workers in the labor force able to pay the payroll tax that funds Social Security payments to people of retirement age. In 15 years, the number of people over age 65 will be larger than the number of children for the first time in U.S. history, according to the presentation at a Southern Demographic Association meeting in New Orleans.
At the same time the U.S. is growing older, it will also become more diverse, with children leading the way. By next year, no single race group alone will make up more than half of U.S. children, the projections show.
Although non-Hispanic whites currently are a majority in the U.S., their numbers will dip below 50% of the population in 40 years, declining from 199 million next year to 179 million in 2060, the projections show.
People who identify as two or more races will be the fastest-growing group in the next 40 years, its population expanding as births outpace deaths.
Other fast-growing groups include Asians, whose growth will be driven by migration, and Hispanics, whose growth will be driven by natural increases, according to the projections.
The U.S. is expected to cross the 400 million-person threshold by 2058, as it adds 79 million more people in 40 years, but annual growth will slow down. The U.S. has about 326 million people today.
Population growth is expected to go from an additional 2.3 million per year currently to an additional 1.6 million people a year by 2060.
Growth comes from immigration and when births outpace deaths, but that natural increase will decline as the nation ages. The nation’s median age is expected to go from 38 today to 43 by 2060.
As the number of people over age 65 grows, the share of working-age adults, who pay with their employers for Social Security through a payroll tax, will also decline. Next year, there are expected to be 3.5 working-age adults for every person of retirement age, but that ratio declines to 2.5 by 2060, according to the projections.