The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau Data show that Phoenix is now majority-minority, with residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino outnumbering those who identify as white only.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 42.6% of the City of Phoenix’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, compared with 42.5% of the population who chose the category white alone, not Hispanic or Latino. That makes those identifying as Hispanic the majority — by a slim margin. Phoenix is representative of a larger trend of a diversifying America.

READ ALSO: Arizona Hispanics’ economic impact will hit an all-time high by 2022

The way the federal government separates race versus Hispanic origin can be confusing at first glance. According to the U.S. Census Bureaus’ website, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget requires race data for a minimum of five groups: white, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Respondents may also report more than one racial category.

Phoenix by the numbers

Hispanic or Latino: 42.6%

White, not Hispanic or Latino: 42.5%

Black or African-American: 7.1%

Asian: 3.8%

American Indian and Alaska Native: 2.1%

Since the concept of Hispanic origin is separate from race, an individual may select any race and further identify as Hispanic or Latino on a census form. For example, the data shows that 72.9% of Phoenix residents chose white as their only race. If you take away those who identify as white and Hispanic or Latino, however, the number drops to 42.5%.

To put it another way, the 42.5% of Phoenix residents who identify as non-Hispanic whites are now a smaller cohort than the 42.6% multiracial Hispanic or Latino ethnic group.

The growing Hispanic population is good for Arizona’s economy, according to the 2020 DATOS report, released by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC).

According to DATOS:

• Arizona Hispanics’ buying power is expected to hit an all-time high at $57.3 billion by 2022

• U.S. Latino buying power could reach $1.9 trillion by 2023

• Hispanics now account for 31.7% of Arizona’s population, according the the Census report

• Phoenix is ranked the sixth largest major city for Hispanic population with more than 716,000 residents

• The Hispanic U.S. high school graduation rate moved from 57% in 2000 to to 71.8% in 2019

In a clear sign of things to come: Among the state’s K-12 student population, Latinos are 50% of the total, meaning a greater percentage of the state’s future workforce will be Hispanic.

“If you look at the most recent census data, it tells us that the Caucasian group, as a racial set, is shrinking as a component of our overall population in the United States,” says John Bailitis, chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group at Jennings Strouss. “As our population on the whole becomes more diverse, I think workforces and businesses need to try harder to focus on diversity to make them a true reflection of what our overall population is like.”

With those identifying as white now the minority in Phoenix, having a representative workplace is the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but it also makes good business sense. “Businesses are all about coming up with creative solutions. The more ideas and viewpoints you have in the room, the better decision you’re going to make,” argues Julia Acken, member at Jennings Strouss, chair of the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee, and one of Az Business magazine’s Most Influential Women of 2021.

Balitis believes that the workforce won’t diversify naturally just because of shifting demographics. “Some business leaders will step back and look at that data that you’re describing and think, ‘We don’t really need to devote a lot of energy or effort to a diversity program because theoretically our workforce eventually should mirror our population in your state,’” he says. “I think the potential for complacency is a real problem, because if you think that you don’t need to put effort into it because it’s going to happen organically, you won’t succeed.”

As Phoenix and the U.S. continues with this trend of demographic shift, leaders can generate buy-in from employees for diversity initiatives by leading by example.

“As a leader or a group of leaders at a business, you show everybody else in your organization that you’re committed to this. It’s a priority, then everybody buys into it,” Balitis explains. “But if you don’t devote the resources to diversity initiatives or think because our population generally is becoming more diverse you don’t need to worry about it, there will never be any visibility of your desire for diversity to your workforce. And there won’t be any success in it either.”