(CNN)- In what is a historic milestone, the population of minority children younger than the age of one has overtaken whites, the Census Bureau said on Thursday.
The bureau released estimates showing that 50.4% of children younger than one were minorities as of July 1, 2011, up from 49.5% from the 2010 census taken in April 2010.
The United States remains largely white. The bureau says there were 114 million minorities in 2011, or 36.6% of the U.S. population, a bump of half a percentage point from 2010.
But the latest statistics - which also count the national population younger than 5 as 49.7% minority in 2011, an increase from 49% in 2010 - portend a future of a more racially diverse America.
INTERACTIVE: Children Of Color Outnumber White Babies
"We've known it was going to come," said Kenneth M. Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire.
But Johnson said the question was what year the "crossover point" would happen.
"Little children are in the vanguard of all this change coming to America," the demographer said, calling the development a first in U.S. history.
Johnson sees the trend as an "opportunity" for more Americans to embrace diversity. More children are going to be exposed to a more diverse group of classmates, and that will affect attitudes and outlook.
The changes are going to be felt first in hospitals, as well as schools, where an increasingly diverse child population has to be absorbed. Hospitals would need interpreters and translators, for example. English as a second language would be an educational priority.
While many regions such as Atlanta have a diverse population, other regions lack racial and ethnic variety and will have to deal with a new kind of population, he said. In declining rural counties, he says, an influx of groups like Hispanics would serve to renew communities and changes would ensue.
"For a country that's aging, we need young workers, and the growth of the minority population will contribute to the size of the young adult workforce," he said. "This is breathing new life into the United States."
The latest figures - which defines "minority" as anyone who does not identify themselves as white (as a single race) and non-Hispanic - count Hispanics as "the most populous" and "fasting growing minority group."
They numbered 52 million in 2011, and their population grew by 3.1% since 2010. The U.S. Hispanic population grew from 16.3% in 2010 to 16.7% in 2011.
"California had the largest Hispanic population of any state on July 1, 2011 (14.4 million), as well as the largest numeric increase within the Hispanic population since April 1, 2010, (346,000)," the Census said.
"New Mexico had the highest percentage of Hispanics at 46.7%. Los Angeles had the largest Hispanic population of any county (4.8 million) in 2011 and the largest numeric increase since 2010 (73,000). Starr County - on the Mexican border in Texas - had the highest share of Hispanics (95.6 percent)."
Asians numbered 18.2 million nationally in 2011, making them the second fastest-growing minority group - up by 3% since 2010. Figures show that California had the largest Asian population of any state at 5.8 million and the largest increase since 2010 at 131,000.
"Hawaii is our nation's only majority-Asian state, with people of this group comprising 57.1% of the total population. Los Angeles had the largest Asian population of any county (1.6 million) in 2011, and also the largest numeric increase (16,000) since 2010. At 61.2%, Honolulu had the highest percentage of Asians in the nation," the Census said.
African-Americans are the second largest minority group in the United States at 43.9 million in 2011, an increase of 1.6% from 2010. New York has the largest black population of any state with 3.7 million and Texas has the largest increase from 2010 of 84,000. Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, has the largest black population of any county at 1.3 million. Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta, has the largest increase since 2010 at 13,000.
The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of blacks at 52.2%. Mississippi has the second-largest at 38%.
America's native population - labeled "American Indian and Alaska Native population" by the Census - was about 6.3 million in 2011, up 2.1% from 2010. California had the largest such population at 1,050,000 and the largest increase at 23,000. Alaska had the highest share at 19%. Los Angeles had the largest such population of any county, with 231,000, and the largest increase, 9,000 since 2010.
The population classified as "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" was 1.4 million in 2011, up 2.9% since 2010. Hawaii had the largest such population of any state at 359,000 and the highest percentage at 26.1. California had the largest increase since 2010 at 9,000. Honolulu has the largest population of any county at 235,000. Los Angeles County had the largest increase since 2011 at 2,700.
Of single race non-Hispanic white, California had the largest population at 15 million. Texas had the largest increase since 2010 at 80,000. Maine had the highest percentage of the non-Hispanic white alone population, 94.3 percent.
Four states and the District of Columbia have predominantly minority populations, Hawaii, at 77%, the District of Columbia at 64.7%, California, at 60.3%, New Mexico, at 59.8%, and Texas, at 55.2%. Minorities comprised the majority population in 11% of the nation's 3,143 counties.