U.S. Hispanic Population Exceeds 50 Million

Firmly nation’s No. 2 group in population

By Michael Martinez and David Ariosto, CNN

 

The growing Hispanic population in the United States has reached a new milestone, topping 50 million, or 16.3% of the nation, officially solidifying its position as the country’s second-largest group, U.S. Census Bureau officials said Thursday.

“Overall, we’ve learned that our nation’s population has become more racially and ethnically diverse over the past 10 years,” said Nicholas A. Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch.  Several trends emerged from the 2010 census, according to Robert M. Groves, director of the Census Bureau, and Marc J. Perry, chief of the population distribution branch.

The country is growing at a smaller rate. Growth is concentrated in metropolitan areas and in the American West and South. The fastest-growing communities are suburbs such as Lincoln, California, outside Sacramento. And standard-bearer cities such as Boston, Baltimore and Milwaukee are no longer in the top 20 for population, replaced by upstarts such as El Paso, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the officials said.

The most significant trend, however, appeared to be the nation’s new count of 50.5 million Latinos, whose massive expansion accounted for more than half of the nation’s overall growth of 27.3 million people, to a new overall U.S. population of 308.7 million, officials said.

The Hispanic population grew 43% since 2000, officials said.

In stark contrast, all other populations together grew by only about 5%, officials said. The nation as a whole expanded by 9.7%.

Bureau officials declined Thursday to say how much illegal immigration has spurred growth among Latinos and other minorities, saying the sources of the growth are still being studied.

“Those are actually very excellent questions,” said Roberto Ramirez, chief of the bureau’s ethnicity and ancestry branch. “We are actually in the middle of the process of investigating that.”

D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer at the Pew Research Center in Washington, said the birth rate, rather than immigration, is the primary driving factor in the Latino boom.

Hispanics now account for nearly one-quarter of children under the age of 18, Cohn said.

“Hispanics are a younger population, and there are just more women of a child-bearing age,” she said.

Although immigration remains a major contributor to Hispanic population growth, the recent recession and high employment rates may have prompted a tapering off in the rate of foreign-born nationals seeking U.S. residence, analysts said.

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