Decline of America's white population accelerating, study finds

A rapidly aging white population and fast-growing younger minority groups are speeding demographic changes across the nation, hastening a political divide likely to have long-term ramifications. 

The percentage of the U.S. population that is white has decreased from 79.6 percent in 1980 to 61.9 percent in 2014. The percentage of Latino-Americans has increased from 6.4 percent to 17.3 percent over the same time period, while both the African-American and Asian-American populations have grown, too.

There are growing signs that the rate of change is increasing. The number of non-Hispanic whites who died in 2014 outpaced the number of white births in 17 states, according to a new analysis from the University of New Hampshire. That’s the largest number of states to experience a natural decrease in the white population in American history.

Only two states, Maine and West Virginia, experienced more deaths than births — an indication that Latino and African-American populations are growing at a fast clip in most states.

Both Maine and West Virginia are among the whitest states in the nation. In 12 of the 17 states where white deaths outpaced births, naturally increasing populations among Latino voters was sufficient to offset the declining white population.

Whites experienced natural declines mostly in Northeastern, Western and Southern states, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. White populations grew in most Mountain West states and Great Plains states and by smaller margins in most Rust Belt and Mid-South states.

Natural decline among white populations has been happening for decades in mostly rural areas, especially in states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, California and Florida. Researchers found more recent natural decreases occurring in more urban areas in states like New Jersey, Arizona and Massachusetts.

And there is little chance that the decreases will reverse: Studies routinely find that once a natural decrease begins, it is unlikely to reverse itself. More states are likely to join the list of white natural decrease in future years, including Vermont, South Carolina, Tennessee and Oregon, where the ratios of white births to deaths have declined precipitously.

Researchers at UNH’s Carsey School of Public Policy point to an aging white populace and a decline in births slowed by the Great Recession and by fewer women of childbearing age.
“Natural decrease is the ultimate demographic consequence of population aging, low fertility, and a diminishing proportion of the childbearing-age population,” researchers Rogelio Saenz and Kenneth Johnson wrote. “The rapid rise in the number of U.S. states experiencing white natural decrease reflects the demographic changes underway.”

Nationally, the number of whites born in 2014 is only slightly higher, 2.15 million, than the number of whites who died, 2.06 million. A decade ago, white births outpaced deaths by nearly 400,000 each year. The ratio of white births to deaths fell 79 percent between 1999 and 2014.

Members of the baby boom generation, a generation with a greater percentage of whites than younger generations, are beginning to reach retirement age, and mortality rates are rising. Today, the median age of a white American is 43, four years higher than it was in 2000. The number of white Americans over the age of 65 has jumped from 15 percent to 18 percent of the overall white population. 

By contrast, the average American Latino is just 28 years old. Latino birth rates exceeded death rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the researchers found. 

At the same time, the number of white women of childbearing age, 15–44, declined by 12 percent, or nearly 5 million people. 

Nationally, the number of white Americans is expected to begin declining in absolute numbers between 2030 and 2040, according to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2050, whites are expected to make up less than half the U.S. population.

The growing ranks of aging baby boomers will weigh heavily on the nation’s healthcare costs, as older residents tend to use more health services. The tug and pull between an aging population that is mostly white and a growing, younger population that is more diverse is likely to set off years of political fights over spending priorities across the country.

Those fights are already underway, as Republicans and Democrats pull increasing shares of votes from more defined demographic groups. 

Republicans have done better among white voters in recent years: Exit polls suggest President-elect Donald Trump scored 57 percent of the white vote, a margin almost equal to Mitt Romney’s 59 percent in 2012. 

But the UNH study shows that pool is a decreasing subset of the American population and the electorate. At the same time, the Republican Party has struggled to gain traction among African-Americans and Hispanic voters; after Romney’s loss in 2012, the Republican National Committee conducted a post-election autopsy that recommended reaching out more to minority communities.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been pulling a growing share of their votes from the growing pool of minority voters. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won 74 percent of non-white voters in 2016, while President Obama relied on a huge boost in turnout among African-Americans and Hispanics to win his two terms in office.

Statue of Jesus only thing left standing in house burned by Tennessee wildfire

A statue of Jesus was the only thing left standing after the wildfires swept through this house in Sevier County, Tennessee.
Fires still burn as rain falls in Gatlinburg.
(CNN)The pictures coming out of the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, wildfires are just devastating. Acres of woodland blackened. Row upon row of homes and businesses reduced to ashes.
But a TV crew with CNN affiliate WVLT spotted something of a miracle amid all that destruction. On Wednesday, reporter Kelsey Leyrer and her team captured footage of what they saw at a house out in Sevier County. It was a statue of Jesus -- covered with soot and ashes, but still standing. It was the only thing left after the home burned to the ground.
The Jesus statue was the second religious item this week that survived the wildfires. Earlier this week Isaac McCord, an employee at the Dollywood theme park, says he found a partially burned page from the Bible's book of Joel. The part of the passage that's readable, from Joel's first chapter reads, "O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field."
McCord immediately took a picture of what he'd found and posted it to Facebook, where it's been shared tens of thousands of times. Many commenters took it as a sign from God.
"It provides hope and faith," McCord said. "That's why I shared it."
At least seven people have lost their lives in the wildfires that have ravaged Sevier County and Gatlinburg this week.

Trump election points to US growth boost: OECD

Police organizations have high hopes for President-elect Donald Trump. But at the top of their wish list isn’t proposed legislation or policy — rather they hope the self-proclaimed “law and order” candidate can usher in a new era of respect and support for law enforcement.

“The first thing, and something Mr. Trump has already done well, is use the bully pulpit to improve the perception of police officers,” said James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police.

Under the Obama administration, law enforcement leaders say their officers have felt unfairly characterized as villains amid the movement for policing reform and have become targets for hostility.

“We welcome a reset button,” said Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and a former assistant director of the FBI.

When law enforcement now uses deadly force against civilians, there is too often a rush to judgment that condemns officers for their actions even before all the facts are known, said National Sheriff’s Association President Greg Champagne.

“The criminal justice system is not an instantaneous process. It takes time to work,” he said. “All we ask is don’t condemn.”

Trump election points to US growth boost: OECD

Donald Trump's plan may double the US growth rate by 2018 (AFP Photo/Herika Martinez)

Paris (AFP) - President-elect Donald Trump's big-spending plan and tax cuts are expected to help double the US economic growth rate by 2018, the OECD said Monday.

The US economy will grow by 2.3 percent in 2017 and 3.0 percent in 2018, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, revising its earlier forecast.

That compares to gross domestic product growth of 1.5 percent this year, according to the OECD.

The Republican property tycoon's team has said he will devote $550 billion to rebuilding decrepit infrastructure.

The incoming president also campaigned on promises for major corporate tax cuts as part of a wide-ranging blueprint for the limping US economy.

"GDP is projected to return to a moderate growth trajectory in 2017 and strengthen in 2018, mainly due to the projected fiscal stimulus, which takes effect particularly in 2018," the OECD said in its report.

"Indeed, projected fiscal support will boost GDP growth by just under 0.5 and 1 percentage point in 2017 and 2018 respectively," it added.

Global growth will also benefit if the US president-elect's avowed spending and tax plans boost domestic investment and consumption, the Paris-based body said.

It now sees world GDP growth rising to 3.3 percent next year and 3.6 percent in 2018 but stuck to its 2016 forecast of 2.9 percent.

For Britain, the OECD said it was less pessimistic than it was in September when it halved its 2017 growth forecast in the wake of British voters opting to leave the European Union.

It revised up its forecast for this year to 2.0 percent and to 1.2 percent for 2017.

"The unpredictability of the exit process from the European Union is a major downside risk for the economy," the report said.

The OECD also suggested that fiscal initiatives could be the answer for other governments to help drive the global economy after a "low-growth trap" for the last five years.

"Durable exit from the low-growth trap depends on policy choices beyond those of the monetary authorities -- that is, of fiscal and structural, including trade policies -- as well as on concerted and effective implementation," OECD chief economist Catherine Mann said in the report.

Veterans protest flag removal at Hampshire College

The college's president did not attend the demonstration

Freedom is not free. That’s the lesson that hundreds of veterans, their families and friends and other local residents hoped to teach students at Hampshire College Sunday afternoon.
Jerry Maguire, Veteran said, “They took down my flag, they have a right to that, I’m here to defend their right to do that but I want them to understand how bad that hurts me.”
Hundreds gathered to show their support of the American flag and what it stands for after the College removed the flag on campus earlier this week following the presidential election results. A decision 
by the college that outraged many.
David Soucy, a Veteran told 22News, “I was in Iraq 18 months. I got hurt, spent time at Walter Reed. I came home and there’s no way I’ll let anyone take down the flag, no way. It means a lot to me and my brothers.”
People came from all over New England to attend this protest. The news of the flag being taken down upset Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno who stood in solidarity with veterans Sunday.
Mayor Domenic Sarno mentioned, “For the students here and the president and board of trustees have risen from what the veterans sacrificed, this flag and not to fly the flag on this campus if you were in some other countries around the world it would be handled very, very differently.”
The protests remained peaceful with the exception of one incident, when the protesters went to take a group photo one man sat in the middle of everyone making obscene gestures.
That man wouldn’t confirm if he was a student. The college’s president did not attend the demonstration.