As he looks into the new decade, demographer Dudley L. Poston Jr. says he sees a few shifts on the horizon for the U.S. population.
In a recent article published in The Conversation, the Texas A&M emeritus professor of sociology examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Population Division of the United Nations to find that the nation will continue to grow, the number of elderly people will rise, and the number of racial minorities, mainly Hispanics, will grow the most, while whites decline. In the piece, he stated this change will make Hispanics the “main engine of demographic change in the U.S. for the next 10 years and beyond.”
On a state level, Poston said, Texas is ahead of the upcoming projections in some ways.
“These demographic shifts also have some important political implications,” Poston said in an interview. Texas could gain as many as three more representatives in the U.S. House, based on this year’s decennial national Census.
In Bryan-College Station, city staff and school district representatives said they use population data to better understand the community and provide necessary resources.
Poston’s research shows that the U.S. population is more than 331 million people, making it the third largest country, behind China and India, both of which have populations in the billions. In 10 years, the U.S. population will reach about 350 million people.
The population “is getting older and it’s going to keep getting older,” his article said. There are now 74.1 million people under 18 years old, and 56.4 million people who are 65 or older. Within the decade, Poston said the number of old and young people will be about equal with about 76.3 million people under 18 years old and 74.1 million over 65.
As 2020 kicks off, Poston said non-Hispanic white people are the majority race, making up 59.7% of the nation’s population. The Hispanic population is the next largest group, with 18.7% of the population. Poston projects that whites will drop to 55.8% by 2030, and Hispanics will rise to 21.1%.
By 2045, Poston said whites will drop below 50% and become the minority.
Poston said Texas is ahead of that trend, as it has been about 15 years since the white population dropped below 50% in the state.
Texas differs from the country as a whole when it comes to an aging population as well, Poston said, since the state is gaining more people through migration than it is losing. He said many young professionals in their 20s migrate to the state after they complete their education elsewhere, and that people in their 20s and 30s usually have one or two children, which adds to the younger population.
The College Station school district receives reports from demographers at Templeton Demographics every year, Chuck Glenewinkel, director of communications for College Station schools, said. The reports, he said, provide information on subpopulations and give district officials an idea of how many students to expect each year so they can plan accordingly.
College Station has experienced “a period of rapid growth” Glenewinkel said, which has led the district to open a new school every year for the past five years. Since the 2013-2014 school year, total enrollment has risen from 11,713 students to 13,543 in 2018-2019, according to the district website. The 2019-2020 enrollment is 13,980 according to a November school board meeting presentation. By 2024-2025, Templeton Demographics has projected that the district will have 15,705 students.
The Bryan school district relies on data from demographers at Population and Survey Analysts. In the most recent report, Population and Survey Analysts projected that the district would grow from 15,949 students this school year to 16,440 in 2024-2025 and then up to 16,779 students by 2028-2029.
Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Barbara Ybarra said the growth is due in part to more building in the Bryan school zones.
“We were excited to see that growth and development in multiple areas across the district,” Ybarra said. “It’s exciting when you see new families moving in. We were really pleased to see that we are on track to continue to grow in those areas.”
At the city level, College Station Director of Planning and Development Services Jennifer Prochazka said population size data from the Census Bureau is useful because city staff can use the numbers when planning for appropriate land uses and land use densities. Prochazka said knowing what the estimated population will be ahead of time can help planners ensure that a city’s land use patterns can accommodate the projected population size.
Census data also plays a role in determining resources in the city, said College Station Director of Community Services Debbie Eller, since population trends, demographics and more are considered in the Five Year Consolidated Planning process, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development uses to determine certain grant funds it provides to municipalities.
Bryan and College Station city staffs are in the beginning stages of their respective planning processes. Eller said that College Station has been experiencing an increasing elderly population in recent years, which has led to things such as a senior resident apartment complex. Eller said she anticipates supporting affordable housing initiatives for senior residents likely will be determined to be a need in the consolidated plan.
Bryan is anticipating a rise in population following the upcoming Census, Communications and Marketing Manager Kristen Waggener said, which may cause a change in its city council districts. Waggener said much of the city’s recent growth has been on the outside edges of town, and if it is reflected in the Census data, officials will need to change the districts to ensure they are as equal as possible.
And according to October reports in The Eagle, if the B-CS metro area exceeds 200,000 residents in this year’s Census, it will become a Transportation Management Area. The classification could mean the Brazos County would gain an additional $4 million annually for transportation projects.
Bryan Staff Planner Allison Kay said it is critical for the city to have accurate Census data this year.
“People will be getting their mailers in the mid to late March time frame,” Kay said. “Be looking out for those because you want to have what’s best for your city, and to do that — to have those improved programs, improved roads, the funding you need, the right districting — you need to fill out the Census form as accurately as possible for everyone in your household, even the young kids, to be able to get the best for Bryan.”
Go to theconversation.com to view Poston’s full article titled “3 Big Ways That the US Will Change Over the Next Decade.”