UCLA Santiago 2012 undocumented student 2
An undocumented UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony near the college campus in Los Angeles in June 2012.  Reuters

A majority of the U.S. population will be non-white by the middle of the 21st century, according to newly released projections from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The analysis takes into account population trends to predict how America’s demographic landscape will transform over the next 50 years. The most striking revelation: The U.S. population of non-Hispanic whites will reach its apex in 2024 and then begin to recede, with the country expected to become a minority-majority nation by 2043. By 2060, minorities will account for 57 percent of the population.

That doesn’t mean white Americans will become an insignificant slice of the U.S. populace. They are still expected to comprise a plurality, meaning there will be more non-Hispanic whites than any other single ethnic group.

But the nation’s combined African-America, Latino and Asian population will eclipse the number of non-Hispanic whites, likely reshaping the political map and the conception of what it means to be an American.

“The next half-century marks key points in continuing trends — the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” Thomas L. Mesenbourg, the Census bureau’s acting director, said in a press release.

America’s Latino population is projected to more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060, so that about a third of Americans are Latino; the African-Americans population is likely to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million; and the Asian population will more than double, from 15.9 million today to 34.4 million in 2060.

All of this will be occurring against the backdrop of slowing population growth, the Census Bureau projected, with diminished birth rates and migration driving the slowdown.

Elderly Americans will also account for a greater share of the general population. The number of Americans older than 65 will more than double by 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million, and will dominated by non-Hispanic whites. By 2056, retirement-aged Americans will for the first time outnumber Americans under the age of 18.

At the same time America is greying, working-age Americans will make up a diminishing percentage of the general populace. While the number of Americans between the age of 18 and 64 will grow steadily it will not be able to keep pace, and by 2060 it will comprise 56.9 percent of the population, down from 62.7 percent today.

In other words, there will be a smaller workforce to support a larger retired population, relative to the entire country. That will likely intensify an already fierce debate over entitlement reform.