From California to the New York island, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land will change between now and 2005. More specifically, the consumers driving the American economic engine will change--in some cases, drastically.
To measure these changes, we looked at demographic trends as projected by the U.S. Census Bureau and state demographers for the five most populous states: California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. What we found, first of all, is that there are going to be a lot more consumers in the next millennium. The Census Bureau projects the U.S. population will grow from 272 million in 1999 to 286 million in 2005.
Those consumers are generally going to be older, as the still-dominant baby boom continues to move into middle age. Today, 35.5 is the estimated median age of Americans. By 2005, the median age will be more than a year older, at 36.6.
The 40- to 44-year-old group will become the largest, with 22.4 million, surpassing the 35- to 39-year-old population; 45- to 49-year-olds will become the next-largest group. In another age shift, 20- to 24-year-olds will also grow to outnumber 35 to 39-year-olds, the demographic currently bloated by the youngest of the Baby Boomers.
The United States is also becoming more racially diverse, as minorities become majorities in some locales, and the influence of ethnic groups everywhere grows. Non-Latino whites now make up 72.1 percent of Americans, but by 2005 they'll comprise only 69.9 percent of the total. Latinos of all races will grow from 11.2 percent to 12.6 percent of the population. Excluding Latinos, African Americans will experience minimal growth, from 12.2 percent to 12.4, and the American Indian population will rise slightly from 0.7 to 0.8 percent. The numbers of non-Latino Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, meanwhile, will explode by nearly 2.35 million, growing from 3.8 percent to 4.4 percent of the total population.
These will be nationwide changes that will affect every entrepreneur who does business nationally (for instance, via the Internet). How you're affected by the differences between consumers now and in 2005, however, will primarily depend on where you do business. Entrepreneurs who are operating in states like New York and Illinois, which are experiencing slow growth, will be in a much different situation from what entrepreneurs will face in the fast-growing and dynamic markets to be found in California, Texas and Florida.