This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
This week, the national population clock at the United States Census Bureau reached three hundred million. This is only an estimate -- the next official count is in two thousand ten.
But the Census Bureau says the United States is gaining one new person every eleven seconds. Government experts based this on an estimate of one birth every seven seconds and one death every thirteen seconds.
They also considered immigration. The Census Bureau says an immigrant enters the country every thirty-one seconds.
The United States is the third most populous country in the world, although it is still much smaller than China and India.
Some hospitals claimed they had the three hundred millionth baby. Yet the three hundred millionth person in the United States could have been an immigrant. Experts say about fifty-five percent of new population growth has resulted from immigration, including the children of immigrants.
Today twelve percent of the population is foreign-born. The leading place of origin is Mexico. In the past, it was Europe.
America's population reached one hundred million in nineteen fifteen. It reached two hundred million just over fifty years later, in nineteen sixty-seven.
But the country has taken less than forty years to reach three hundred million people. And researchers expect a population of four hundred million in even less time.
At that point, in two thousand forty-three, non-Hispanic whites could make up just over half the population.
In nineteen sixty-seven, more than eighty percent of Americans were white. Less than five percent were of Spanish ancestry. Today, Hispanics -- either American-born or foreign-born -- make up almost fifteen percent of the population.
About thirteen percent of the population is black, and about five percent is of Asian ancestry.
The population growth in the United States is unusual among big industrial nations. Japan and some European countries expect their populations to decrease over the next twenty to thirty years.
America is known as a nation of immigrants. But today, as at other times in its history, immigration is also a hot issue. There is debate especially about the millions who are in the country illegally.
Reporters were invited to watch the Census Bureau clock hit three hundred million Tuesday morning. There was no big ceremony, although bureau employees later held a small event of their own at their offices near Washington.
President Bush released a statement. He said the new population mark is, in his words, "further proof that the American Dream remains as bright and hopeful as ever."
In nineteen fifteen, the most popular names for babies in the United States were John and Mary. This year they are Jacob and Emily.
IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special English, was written by Brianna Blake. MP3 files and transcripts of our programs are at WWW.51VOA.COM. I'm Steve Ember.