Whites in the U.S. will no longer be a majority of the population by 2042, nearly a decade earlier than previous projections, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released August 14. While 65% of the population is projected to be white in 2010, those numbers will start to decline around the 2030s as white deaths outpace births.

The figures show that in 2042, whites will be outnumbered by Americans who call themselves Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander. Previous projections said this would happen by 2050.

By the mid-century mark, when the U.S. is projected to have a population of 439 million people, 54% of the population will consist of racial minorities. The largest growth will be among Hispanics, expected to number 133 million by 2050 -- almost a third of the projected population growth between 2010 and 2050 -- due to high birth rates and immigration.

"No other country has experienced such rapid racial and ethnic change," demographer Mark Mather told the New York Times.

The Asian population will rise from 4.5% in 2010 to nearly 8% in 2050, but the non-Hispanic black population is expected to remain steady, going from 12.2% of the population in 2010 to 11.8% by 2050.

The population is also expected to be much grayer: currently 38.7 million people in the U.S. are aged 65 or older, a figure that will balloon to 88.5 million by 2050 boosted by the "baby boomers," those born in the post-World War II era (1946 to 1966).

Researchers pointed out that some sections of the country already have reached the point where whites are minorities, such as the states of California and Texas.

The findings also pointed to a swelling size of the population as a whole, adding more than 130 million people from its current figure of around 305 million by 2050.

And along with the overall growth, the number of mixed-race Americans was expected to triple, reaching 16 million, or close to 4% of the population.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008