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The growing diversity of America’s melting pot just may have made history, according to Cory Booker.
Newark’s mayor described the milestone during a Feb. 1 appearance on the "Bill Maher Overtime" show, where he was a guest panelist.
Booker claimed that 2012 was the "first year in American history that more minorities are being born than people in the majority."
It’s clear that the United States is a more diverse country than in the past, but Booker’s claim of history being made in 2012 is inaccurate.
Let’s first look at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and then the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
It’s important to note that each agency tracks data differently: the Census Bureau tracks population by race, but not births by race. The National Center for Health Statistics tracks births in whole numbers and percentages, and breaks down those numbers in multiple categories, including race.
In May 2012, the Census Bureau confirmed the milestone Booker referenced, but for the year 2011 -- not 2012.
"Last year we said (in a news release) 50.4 percent of our nation’s population younger than age 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011," Census Bureau spokesman Robert Bernstein told us. "This is up from 49.5 percent from the 2010 census taken April 1, 2010. But in the news release we didn’t … look at the period any time before 2010, so we can’t confirm with 100 percent certainty that this is the first time ever so it may very well be true, that statement, but we can’t confirm that based on our written publication."
Population and birth data for 2012 from the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics won’t be available for several months, spokespeople for both agencies said.
Next, let’s look at birth data by race for the majority race of non-Hispanic whites and these minority groups: non-Hispanic black, American Indian or Alaska native, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Hispanic.
We looked at Vital Statistics Reports birth data going back to 2000 and found that the highest number of minority births – 2,005,890 – occurred in 2007. But that wasn’t more than the number of non-Hispanic whites that year: 2,310,333.
After 2007, the four years with the highest number of minority births, in order, occurred in 2008, 2006, 2009 and 2005, according to the data. Births of non-Hispanic whites, however, were still higher than minority births in each of those years.
We contacted Booker’s press office three times and asked for the source of his data, and we also shared our findings in an e-mail with his press office. We received no response, other than two e-mails acknowledging our requests for comment.
Booker claimed on "Bill Maher Overtime" that 2012 was the "first year in American history that more minorities are being born than people in the majority."
Since 2000, the highest number of minorities born in the United States was in 2007, at 2,005,890 – but there were 2,310,333 non-Hispanic whites also born that year. After reviewing 11 years worth of data, there was no other year in which the number of minority births was higher than that of the majority, non-Hispanic whites.
Looking strictly at population breakdowns by race, the Census Bureau said 2011 was the first time a majority of people in the United States younger than age 1 were minorities. Booker’s claim referenced that milestone, but with the wrong year. The mayor said it happened in 2012, but the Census Bureau said it occurred in 2011. Since Booker’s statistic was partially correct we rate his statement Half True.
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"Bill Maher Overtime," Feb. 1, 2013, accessed Feb. 11, 2013
Phone interview with Robert Bernstein, U.S. Census Bureau spokesman, Feb. 11 and 13, 2013
Phone interviews with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, Feb. 11, 12 and 14, 2013
U.S. Census Bureau news release, "Most Children Younger Than Age 1 are Minorities, Census Bureau Reports," May 17, 2012, accessed Feb. 11, 2013
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Reports, Births: Preliminary Data for 2011, Oct. 3, 2012, accessed Feb. 11, 2013
Phone interview with Brady Hamilton, statistician, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, Feb. 13, 2013
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Reports, Births: Final Data for 2010, Aug. 28, 2012, accessed Feb. 14, 2013
CNN.com, Most U.S. children under 1 are minorities, Cenus says, May 17, 2012, accessed Feb. 14, 2013
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