WASHINGTON — In a surprising show of growth, Hispanics account for more than half the population increase in Florida and the United States over the last decade. They are the predominant feature of the 2010 census' new portrait of America — rapid minority growth, aging whites and increased suburbanization.
On Thursday, the Census Bureau released its first national-level data on racial and ethnic growth. It showed Florida's Hispanics helping lead the way — increasing about 57 percent. Among Florida's nearly 19 million people, 4.2 million are Hispanic. In Hillsborough County, they grew by 70 percent, and in sprawling, land-rich Pasco and Hernando counties their growth exceeded 170 percent.
Minorities make up an unprecedented 90 percent of the total U.S. growth since 2000, due to immigration and higher birth rates for Hispanics. They now number more than 50 million.
One in six Americans are Hispanic; among U.S. children, Hispanics are roughly one in four. Florida has 1.1 million Hispanic kids.
According to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis, the 2010 count of Hispanics was on track to be 900,000 higher than expected as their ranks surpassed census estimates in roughly 40 states. Many of their biggest jumps were in the South, including Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina and Louisiana, where immigrant numbers rose in the last decade.
Asians for the first time had a larger numeric gain than African-Americans, who remained the second largest minority group at roughly 37 million.
While still a relatively small portion of Florida's population, Asians were the state's fastest-growing minority in the last 10 years. They grew by 71 percent. There are now more than a half-million Asians in the state. Orange County had the largest increase.
The nation's number of non-Hispanic whites, whose median age is now 41, edged up slightly to 197 million. Declining birth rates meant the non-Hispanic white share of the total U.S. population dropped over the last decade from 69 percent to roughly 64 percent.
Florida has about 11 million non-Hispanic whites, up only 4 percent, and 3 million blacks, up 28 percent.
The final figures come as states in the coming months engage in the contentious process of redrawing political districts based on population and racial makeup, with changes that analysts believe will result in more Hispanic-majority districts.
The population changes will result in a shift of 12 House seats and electoral votes affecting 18 states beginning in the 2012 elections. Most of the states picking up seats, which include Texas and Florida, are Republican-leaning, even as most of their growth is now being driven largely by Democrat-leaning Hispanics.
Times staff writers Connie Humburg and John Barry contributed to this report.