A closely watched estimate from the US Census Bureau released Thursday suggests that Texas may have passed a long-awaited milestone: the point at which Hispanic residents make up more of the state’s population than white residents.
New population figures, derived from the Bureau’s American Community Survey, showed that Hispanic Texans made up 40.2% of the state’s population in 2021 while non-Hispanic white Texans made up 39.4%. Estimates – based on comprehensive data collected during calendar year 2021 – are not considered official.
The Office’s official population estimates as of July 2021 showed that the Hispanic and non-Hispanic white population are roughly equal in size. But when ranking Hispanics as the state’s largest population group, the new estimates are the first to reflect the expected peak of decades of demographic shifts steadily transforming the state.
The increasing trend that demographers have been following for years reflects the country’s profound cultural and demographic development. The state lost its white majority in 2004. However, the relative growth of the Hispanic population, through immigration and births, has not been reflected in many aspects of the state’s economic and political landscape.
The The 2020 census captured how close the state’s Hispanic and white residents were, only half a percentage point separate at that time. By that time, Texas had gained nearly 11 Hispanic residents for every additional white resident over the past decade. Hispanics have supported nearly half of the state’s total growth of nearly 4 million residents since 2010.
Hispanic Texans are expected to make up an absolute majority of the state’s population in the coming decades, but they are already on edge among children. The latest census estimates show that 49.3% of the Texan population under the age of 18 is Hispanic.
Without corresponding political and economic gains, the economic and political reality of the Hispanic population is captured in persistent disparities that are also reflected in the latest census data. Hispanics living in Texas are disproportionately poor. Nor are they likely to have attained higher levels of education which often serve as pathways for greater social mobility and economic prosperity.
New census estimates show that Hispanics are twice as likely than white residents to live below the poverty level. Although 14.2% of the Texan population in general is considered poor, 19.4% of the Hispanic population lives below the poverty level, compared to only 8.4% of the white population.
Texans are also divided by large income disparities. The median income for a white household in 2021 was $81,384, but it was only $54,857 for a Hispanic household, according to an estimate.
In the face of longstanding educational disparities, Hispanic children were less likely to graduate ready for college than white students and left unprepared for success in the booming Texas economy that increasingly requires some form of post-high school education. New estimates show that 95% of white adults have at least a high school diploma, compared to just 70% of Hispanic adults. Only 18% of Hispanic adults graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 42% of white adults.
Although their increasing numbers have allowed them to secure local political power in many communities, Texas remains a state governed primarily by white Republican men. Texas legislators have a long history of discriminating against Hispanics and other voters of color in pursuit of political control, and political mapping that dilutes the impact of their votes.
Faced with a growing proportion of the Hispanic population working against their political dominance, the Republican-controlled legislature redrawn state legislatures and Congress last year to strengthen their grip on state offices. But in the process, they gave White voters have greater control over political constituencies throughout the stateperfectly Manipulation of district lines in some areas where Hispanics and other voters of color are present It was gaining political ground.
The state now faces nearly a dozen standardized legal challenges—presented by individual voters of color, organizations serving communities of color and the US Department of Justice—to its four political maps that include allegations of intentional discrimination, vote dilution, and racial manipulation.
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