Latinos Account for Half of U.S. Population Growth Since 2000
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Mon Nov 17 13:39:52 UTC 2008
Latinos Account for Half of U.S. Population Growth Since 2000
Check out the FULL REPORT.
Also, check out the interactive maps of Latinos by Geography
by Richard Fry, Senior Research Associate, Pew Hispanic Center
October 23, 2008
Since the turn of the century, Hispanics have accounted for more than
half (50.5%) of the overall population growth in the United States --
a significant new demographic milestone for the nation's largest
minority group. From April 1, 2000, to July 1, 2007, the Hispanic
population grew by 10.2 million to 45.5 million, an increase of 29%.
During this same period, the much larger non-Hispanic population of
the U.S. grew by 10 million, an increase of just 4%. As of mid-2007,
Hispanics made up 15.1% of the total U.S. population but accounted for
a majority of the nation's total population growth since 2000. During
the 1990s, the Hispanic population also expanded rapidly, but over the
course of that decade its growth accounted for less than 40% of the
rise in the nation's total population.
In a reversal of past trends, Latino population growth in the new
century has been more a product of the natural increase (births minus
deaths) of the existing population than it has been of new
international migration. Of the 10.2 million increase in the Hispanic
population since 2000, about 60% of the increase (or 6 million) is due
to natural increase and 40% is due to net international migration,
according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. By contrast, more of the
Hispanic population increase in the U.S. during the 1990s was the
result of immigration (56%) rather than births over deaths of existing
residents (44%), according to Pew Hispanic Center estimates.1
There are several other noteworthy trends in Latino growth and
settlement patterns. Until two decades ago, the nation's Hispanic
population had been heavily concentrated in long-established areas of
Hispanic settlement. In 1990, for example, almost three-quarters of
the Hispanic population resided in just 65 of the nation's 3,141
counties. Beginning in the 1990s, the Hispanic population began to
disperse across the U.S. -- most notably, establishing significant
population centers in many counties in the South and Midwest that
historically had very few Hispanics residents.
This dispersal has continued in the new century. However, since 2000,
the geographic patterns of Hispanic dispersal have differed somewhat
from the patterns of the 1990s, according to a Pew Hispanic Center
analysis of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau county population
The most notable difference is that Hispanic dispersion in this new
century has been tilted more toward counties in the West and the
Northeast than it had been in the 1990s; correspondingly, it has also
been slightly less tilted toward counties in the South2 and Midwest.
Despite this new tilt, in the current decade the South accounts for a
greater share of overall Latino population growth than any other
region. And together, the South and West still account for more than
80% of the Hispanic population growth in this decade, while the
Northeast and Midwest account for just under 20%. This ratio was very
similar in the 1990s.
Another subtle difference in Hispanic settlement patterns in this
decade compared with those of the 1990s has to do with an ever-growing
concentration of Hispanic population growth in metropolitan areas.
Looking just at counties that have had above-average Latino population
growth since 2000, fully 94% are part of what the Census Bureau
defines as a metropolitan area. In the 1990s, so-called metropolitan
counties also loomed large in Latino population growth, but their
share of growth among fast-growing Latino counties was a bit smaller
It should be noted that under the Census Bureau's classification
system, "metropolitan county" does not necessarily refer to a large
city. Indeed, many of the "metropolitan counties" that have
experienced the fastest rate of growth in their Hispanic population in
this decade are either suburbs (typically, outer suburbs) or small or
mid-sized cities. For example, the fastest-growing Hispanic county in
the country in the current decade -- Frederick County, Va., whose
Hispanic population has more than quadrupled since 2000 -- is in a
small-city metropolitan area adjacent to Washington, D.C.
A handful of big cities have also played a sizable role in Latino
population growth in this decade. But because these cities already had
a large base of Hispanic residents at the start of the decade, the
growth of their Latino population since then, while sizable in number,
has been less dramatic in percentage terms. So, for example, the
Latino population grew by more than 400,000 from 2000 to 2007 in just
three counties: Los Angeles, Maricopa (Phoenix) and Harris (Houston).
But when their Hispanic growth is measured as a rate rather than as an
absolute number, none of those counties ranks in the top 400 of the
nation's fastest-growing Latino counties in the current decade.
For the purposes of this report, the Pew Hispanic Center has
identified 676 fast-growing Hispanic counties among the nation's total
of 3,141 counties. These counties all share two characteristics: a
2007 Latino population of at least 1,000; and an above-average
Hispanic growth of at least 41% from 2000 to 2007.
More than three-quarters (528) of these 676 fast-growing Hispanic
counties also experienced fast Hispanic growth during the 1990s,
exemplifying the continuity in Latino settlement patterns since 1990.
At the same time, however, the addition of 148 counties experiencing
rapid growth, as well as the cooling off of Hispanic population growth
in some formerly rapidly growing counties, reflects the changes in the
regional and metropolitan patterns in Latino growth in the new
For example, some counties in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts in the
Northeast and in Montana, New Mexico and California in the West that
have experienced fast Hispanic population growth in the new century
were not fast-growers in the 1990s. In the South, too, Hispanics have
dispersed to some new settlement areas in this decade -- perhaps most
notably to several counties in Louisiana, whose Hispanic populations
have sharply increased in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Also, while
the strong Hispanic growth that some parts of the Midwest experienced
in the 1990s has continued into the new century, the formerly fast
rates of Hispanic growth in other areas of that region -- especially
in economically hard-hit counties in western Michigan and western
Minnesota -- have fallen below average in the new century.
These 676 fast-growing Hispanic counties have also experienced
significant growth in their non-Hispanic populations. In the
aggregate, the non-Hispanic population of these 676 counties has
increased by 9.9 million since 2000, accounting for virtually all of
the nation's 10 million increase in non-Hispanics during this decade.
In short, growth begets growth, irrespective of ethnicity. The
counties to which Latinos are dispersing in the new century are also
Hispanics residing in these fast-growing Hispanic counties have
somewhat different demographic characteristics than their Hispanic
counterparts in older, established, but more slow-growing Hispanic
counties. The most marked difference is in the adult gender balance.
The slow-growing Hispanic counties have only slightly more adult male
Latinos than adult female Latinos, 104 men for every 100 women. In
contrast, in the fast-growing Hispanic counties there are 120 adult
men for every 100 adult women. Also, immigrants make up a greater
share of the Hispanic population in the fast-growing counties (42%)
than they do in older, established Hispanic counties (39%). Similarly,
a modestly higher share of Hispanics are not U.S. citizens in the
fast-growing counties than in slow-growing Hispanic counties.
However, in some respects Hispanics in the fast-growing areas resemble
Hispanics in the slow-growing counties. The English language abilities
and levels of high school completion of Latinos are nearly the same in
both kinds of counties; so, too, is the poverty rate among Latinos.
Among the report's other key findings:
* Hispanic population growth in the new century has been widespread.
The Hispanic population has grown in almost 3,000 of the nation's
* At the same time, Hispanic population growth in the new century has
been fairly concentrated. Hispanic population growth in just 178
counties accounts for 79% of the nation's entire 10.2 million Hispanic
* In spite of the geographic dispersal of Hispanics, the Hispanic
population continues to be much more geographically concentrated than
the non-Hispanic population. In 2007, the 100 largest Hispanic
counties were home to 73% of the Latino population. By contrast, the
100 largest non-Hispanic counties were home to just 39% of the
* By this measure, Hispanics are more geographically concentrated than
the nation's black population. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) of the
non-Hispanic black population live in the nation's 100 largest
non-Hispanic black counties.
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