Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Underrepresented Minorities Responsible for Most of America's Population Growth

The U.S. Census Bureau has started to release findings from its 2010 data collection, and while there's more to come, I've already seen some interesting information about how we're growing as a nation. Seeing those numbers, I was inclined to look into how much of our country's growth over the past decade came from underrepresented minorities.

Loyal readers may remember when I blogged a few months ago (LINK) about how our future as a nation depends in part on helping underrepresented minorities succeed academically. Specifically, I said that "If our higher education system doesn't figure out how to recruit, retain, and graduate the groups that will make up half of the American population in the coming decades, that's not just a system that's failing minorities: that's just plain failure."

That day hasn't come yet. But, according to the Census, we don't need to wait until the day that underrepresented minorities are responsible for a majority of our population growth: they already do.

Between 2000 and 2010, the U.S. population increased by about 27.3 million. Of that 27.3 million, America's four major underrepresented groups were responsible for most of that growth: collectively, the Hispanic, African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations grew by over 20 million. That's roughly 73 percent of our overall growth as a nation.

(This number is probably a little too high, because people who are Hispanic and members of another underrepresented minority group could be counted twice, with the way that the Census reported these numbers. At the same time, it could be a little low, because it excludes underrepresented minorities who identified as multiracial. This probably affects the number by just a few percentage points.)

In other words, the overwhelming majority of America's population growth in the past decade came from minority communities that are currently underrepresented in higher education. This is happening at a time where education is becoming even more important, and other nations are investing in their future by investing in education.

The Pacific Islander Access project wants to be a part of the effort to help underrepresented minorities by helping the academic programs who serve them. Our first order of business has been to raise awareness about the fact that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, and that these programs should allow Pacific Islanders to apply alongside other underrepresented groups. Over time, we want to move beyond doing just that, and help connect Pacific Islander scholars and the underrepresented minority programs that want to help them. By doing this, we can help underrepresented minority academic programs achieve their mission.


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