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A new face

Published June 28. 2011 05:01PM

The face of America is changing.

If you are a white American, and have recently had a child in the family, the baby will be in the racial and ethnic minority by the time he or she reaches middle age.

New government data shows that in 1990, more than 60 percent of children in the 3-year-old age group were white. Today, that group numbers just under half of all 3-year-olds.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said census data shows minorities also outnumber whites among babies under age 2. This would confirm that today's racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury.

There are now 12 states - Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Mississippi, and the District of Columbia - with white populations below 50 percent among children under age 5. In 2000 there were six states and the District of Columbia.

At the current trend, seven more states are on course to flip their "minority-majority" status among small children in the next decade. They include Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, South Carolina and Delaware.

That once-uncomplicated social order that brought us the Ward Cleaver family of "Leave It To Beaver" fame in the late 1950s is also changing.

Pennsylvania's 2010 census figures show a decline in what has been known as the "traditional" household - those headed by a husband and wife. That figure has declined from 52 to 48 percent in the last decade.

The number of same-sex unmarried partner homes has increased by nearly 60 percent to more than 33,000 in the state.

"We're moving toward an acknowledgment that we're living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color," said Laura Speer, coordinator of the Kids Count project for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.

These new statistics on the ever-changing cultural landscape are ushering in new discussions on immigration and the populating trends will impact government services. Our nation and our individual communities must quickly plan how to integrate and educate the growing number of minorities, which will become the new majority within many of our lifetimes.

By Jim Zbick

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