Hispanics were the majority in California when it was part of Mexico more than 165 years ago, and will again be the state's largest ethnic group by early next year, the Golden State's Department of Finance says.

"According to estimates based on data from the 2010 Census, Hispanics now represent 39 percent of the California population due to their birth rate plus immigration," Bill Schooling, chief of the Demographic Research Unit of the state's Finance Department, told Efe.

"That 39 percent signifies a number equal to that of non-Hispanic whites, and according to the same estimates, there is no doubt that by the beginning of next year, Latinos will have taken the lead over other ethnicities in the state," he said.

The demographer noted that the Hispanic population is younger and has more children than Anglos, and for that reason recalled the concern of Gov. Jerry Brown, who is attempting to make educational programs for Latinos a priority.

"Latino professionals will have to take over the jobs of older Anglos of the baby boomer generation," Schooling said.

"The Hispanic population is the reason why California is not aging as fast as other states, and the immigration to our state comes mostly from Mexico, Central America and Asia," Schooling said.

The California population stands at 38 million. Latinos and non-Hispanic whites each account for 39 percent of the total, while Asians make up 13.9 percent and blacks account for 6.6 percent.

The remaining 1.7 percent comprises native Americans, among others.

"There's a disparity between Hispanics and Anglos, so our leaders must find ways to rectify the income gap between those who earn more and those who earn less," Schooling said.

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