February 7, 2013: The U.S. Latino population has ballooned to 51.9 million people, a 47.5 percent jump between 2000 and 2011, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.
The U.S. Latino population remains the fastest-growing segment of the overall United States population since the turn of the century, slightly outpacing the percentage growth of the Asian community (47.3 percent)—but with a wide lead over any other ethnic or racial group in pure numbers of population growth. Latinos numbered just 35.2 million in the 2000 U.S. Census. Overall, the US population grew 10.7 percent in that time frame.
Latinos today comprise 17 percent of the overall U.S. population, up from 13 percent in 2000. Non-Latino whites still make up the majority at 63 percent—but that is down from 69 percent in the 2000 official U.S. head count. African-American residents have remained steady over that time period at 12 percent.
The Pew Research Center recently compiled key findings from a new analysis of the Latino population based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey. The analysis provides a solid snapshot of population trends that support the power of numbers that political leaders now recognize—that the Latino population now carries political and economic clout that must be courted in US-American public policy. [Latinos comprised approximately 10 percent of the vote in the November 2012 Presidential Election.]
For example, Republicans willingly acknowledge that Latino voters carried President Barack Obama to re-election last November. That realization has prompted a bipartisan look at comprehensive immigration reform—firmly placing the issue on the front burner. President Obama even promised in his State of the Union address that if the U.S. Senate successfully reaches that bipartisan compromise, he will sign immigration reform that contains a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and other solutions.
While the native-born Latino population grew by more than 57 percent since 2000, the immigrant population increased by nearly one-third, or nearly 18.8 million Latinos. The percentage of foreign-born Latinos among the overall U.S. Latino population has reversed its long-time growth. 36 percent of all Latinos are foreign-born, down from a high of 40 percent in 2000. That suggests immigration has slowed since the turn of the 21st century—many analysts blaming the poor U.S. economy as the main reason.
Latino countries of origin
Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. Latino population is of Mexican origin, or 33.5 million. Those of Puerto Rican descent number 4.9 million (9 percent), followed by people of Salvadoran descent (two million) and Cuban origin (1.9 million), or four percent for each group. Latinos who hail from the Dominican Republic make up 1.5 million of the overall population (3 percent).
Two-thirds of the entire U.S. Latino population lives in five states: California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida. Nearly half (47 percent) of the whole population reside in Texas and California.
But five other states have seen the fastest growth in Latino population since 2000: South Carolina (154 percent growth), Kentucky (132 percent), Arkansas (123 percent), and Minnesota and North Carolina (120 percent each).
Nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of all the births in the U.S. in 2011 were to Latinas. Nearly half of those Latino births (47 percent) were to unmarried Latinas.
The Latino population is the nation’s youngest major racial or ethnic group, with a median age of 27. That compares to 33 for African-Americans, 36 for Asian-Americans and 42 for whites.
86 percent of Latino-Americans under the age of 18 report they speak English “very well” or only use English at home, compared with 59 percent of Latino adults. But one in four of all Latinos over the age of five now speak only English at home.
On the education front, a great share of Latinos age 25 or older have earned a high school diploma today (63 percent) compared to 2000 (52 percent). 13 percent have attained at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with ten percent in 2000. One-third of Latinos ages 18-24 are now enrolled as an undergraduate, graduate, or professional student, compared with just one in five in 2000.
But the median income of the Latino population ($39,000) continues to lag well behind that of the overall U.S. population ($50,000). There is even a significant income gap between native-born Latino households ($42,400) and foreign-born Latino families ($35,900). As a result, 26 percent of the Latino population lives in poverty, compared with 16 percent of the overall U.S. population.
Latino households (22 percent) are more likely to receive food stamps than overall U.S. households (13 percent). However, African-American households are the most likely to receive food stamps (28 percent). But Latino households (30 percent) are the most likely to lack health insurance compared to the overall U.S. population (15 percent).
Fewer than half (46 percent) of Latino heads of household own their homes, compared to nearly two-thirds of the overall U.S. population. The only group with a lower home ownership rate is the African-American population (44 percent).
Among immigration trends, the U.S. continues to be the world’s leader as a destination for immigrants, with a record 40.4 million living here in 2011, or 13 percent of the overall population. Since 2000, the U.S. immigrant population has increased by 30 percent while undocumented immigration slowed from a high of 12 million people in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2011.
Nearly half (45 percent) of all U.S. immigrants are now naturalized citizens. Mexico remains the largest source country of all U.S. immigrants (29 percent) with 11.7 million people, outpacing the entire Asia continent, which is in second place (25 percent). Nine percent of the immigrant population comes from the Caribbean, eight percent from Central America, and seven percent from South America.
While the overall poverty rate (20 percent) of immigrants is higher than native-born Americans, the poverty rate is highest (29 percent) among Mexican-born immigrants.
The American Community Survey (ACS) is the largest household survey in the U.S., with a sample of about 3 million addresses. It covers the topics previously addressed in the long form of the decennial census. The ACS is designed to provide estimates of the size and characteristics of the resident population, which includes persons living in households and group quarters.
The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Its Hispanic Center, founded in 2001, seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic-Latino populations and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation.
Editor’s Note: An interactive showing changes in electoral composition since 1972 by race, ethnicity and other demographic characteristics is available at: http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2012/election-history