THE MINORITY POPULATION HAS GROWN TO majority levels in Hawaii, New Mexico, California, the District of Columbia, and most recently Texas, according to the Census Bureau. With minority populations hovering at about 40 percent, five other states—Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York, and Arizona—are inching toward the statistical dividing line.
Bernard Markstein, director of forecasting for the NAHB, says that most of the minority population growth stems from immigration. The high concentration in certain states reflects job opportunities in agriculture, construction, and service industries, which helps grow immigrant communities. “There's a tendency to group together,” Markstein explains.
However, he also says even if all immigration was stopped tomorrow, the minority population would continue to move toward majority levels. “Without any immigration, you'd tend to see a shift toward minorities … but with immigration, it's just much faster,” he says. The growth is attributed to the fact that not only are minorities apt to be younger, thus more likely to have children, but also they tend to be more economically challenged, which has been linked to higher birthrates.
For builders, this trend has a double benefit. Because many minorities are immigrants, they tend to find jobs that require a lower skill level, many of them becoming day laborers for the construction industry. However, according to some new research by Fannie Mae, homeownership rates among immigrants who have been in the country for 10 years or more is relatively high. “[The growing minority population] is certainly a source of labor and a source of demand,” Markstein says.
SOURCE: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU (JULY 2004)