SANTA ANA (CBS) — The Hispanic population in California is likely to surpass the number of whites in the state sometime next year, according to new analysis of census data.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports the benchmark will likely come much earlier than forecasters had projected.

Bill Schooling, the state’s top demographic expert, said decades of blistering population growth among Hispanics and a slowdown among non-Hispanic whites are the two main factors fueling the trend.

“It was over 50 percent of Californians in 1950 were born in other states, and now that number is down to around 18 percent,” said Schooling. “That’s quite a change.”

He pointed out that researchers at the state Department of Finance had determined that now most Californians are either born in the state or come here from foreign countries, far earlier than the post-2013 time-frame previously agreed upon by most demographers.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows California’s population grew by over 353,000 people up to nearly 38 million residents from last July, with the number of whites tumbling by 37,000.

However, Schooling was reluctant to attribute the demographic shift solely to immigration policy.

“As more and more of the Baby Boomers do retire, we’re going to need people to help us out and to keep the economy percolating to get California back to where it should be,” he said.

While minorities currently make up over 37 percent of the entire U.S. population, most demographers had projected whites wouldn’t become a minority until the year 2040.

Data from the Census Bureau also showed that for the first time ever, non-white babies accounted for over half of all U.S. births last year.

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