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
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
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
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
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
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy
research organization based in Washington, D.C. It is a
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.
An interactive showing changes in electoral composition since
1972 by race, ethnicity and other demographic characteristics is