02 October 2006

America's population to hit 300 million mark

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The population of the United States is set to hit the 300 million mark this October with immigration a key factor behind the growth.

The US Census Bureau expects to announce the 300 million mark sometime this month, and at the current rate is expected to hit 600 million by the end of the 21st century.

Home to 5 per cent of the world’s people, America’s population has trebled in less than a century. In 1915 the population was 100 million, 52 years later in 1967 that figure had doubled and this October's milestone comes just 39 years after that.

Activists are growing increasingly concerned at the impact America's growth is having on the environment.

“This 300 million mark is a good time for us to focus attention on the US population and its environmental impacts,” said Vicky Markham, director of the Center for Environment and Population, based in Connecticut.

“In some ways you have to appreciate the kind of growth and prosperity in your country but on the other hand I see what kind of implications this has for the natural environment.

“That’s where the glass is half full and half empty.”

Immigrants now account for 12.4 per cent of the population with some 35.7 million inhabitants having been born outside the country, a marked rise on 1967 when 9.7 million immigrants comprised just five percent of the total population.

The ethnic make up of immigrants has changed significantly too over time; in 1915, the greatest numbers of immigrants came from Germany, by 1967 they were from Italy and today the greatest numbers are from Mexico.

Despite the pressures of the growing population, the American dream is alive and well with home ownership now at 68.9 per cent - up from 63.6 in 1967 and 45.9 in 1915.

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