In the new year, California is expected to become the second state, behind New Mexico, in which Latinos are the largest racial or ethnic group. Whites lack a majority in only two states — Hawaii and New Mexico.
State demographers estimate that whites and Hispanics are now an equal share of California’s population, with Hispanics poised to become a plurality by the end of the year.
President emeritus of the North Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Angel Diaz, said although the numbers represent the vast number of Latinos are in the state, they are still underrepresented, especially in government. There is a “huge number” of Latinos who are eligible to vote but are not registered, Diaz said, and that he hopes the gap will close.
“One of the key things I’m working on is to get more Latinos registered to vote,” Diaz said.
A state official estimated Hispanics will become a majority early next year.
“At this point, the numbers are very, very close,” said Bill Schooling, head of the demographic research unit of the State Department of Finance.
Whites and Latinos each comprise about 39 percent of California’s population. Latinos make up about 28 percent of the population in Yuba City and 29 percent in Marysville.
Debbie Porcayo, founding member and secretary for Yuba City’s Alliance for Hispanic Advancement, said she hopes the trend will help put the spotlight on education and issues like high school dropout rates and pregnancy.
“I hope we can locally develop some programs to steer the youth in the right direction,” Porcayo said.
The state estimates that in 2020, Hispanics will account for 40.7 percent of California’s population while whites will make up 36.6 percent. In 2030, the population is projected to be nearly 44 percent Hispanic and about 34 percent white.
In 2060, Hispanics will make up 48 percent of the population compared to 30 percent for whites, according to state projections. Blacks are expected to slip from nearly 6 percent in 2010 to just more than 4 percent by 2060, while the Asian population, now just below 13 percent, may grow slightly.