CONCORD, N.H. — Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont remain among the whitest states, but just as they are elsewhere, minorities are becoming major drivers of population growth in northern New England.

New Census estimates show the minority population growing to 5.1 percent in both Maine and Vermont between 2000 and July 2009 and to 7.2 percent in New Hampshire. The increase in minorities accounted for 73 percent of Vermont’s population growth during that time, compared to 56 percent in Maine and 43 percent in New Hampshire.

University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson says those figures are consistent with the national picture, which shows a steadily rising minority population, largely fueled by sharp increases in minority births, especially among Hispanics.