June 2, 2011 | 89.3 Southern California Public Radio | Original Article

Latinos and population growth: Five interesting tidbits

News about the nation’s growing Latino population has been rolling out almost continuously since the results of the 2010 Census were announced late last year.

First there was the speculation about who was driving population growth in some of the nation’s most politically influential states. When ethnic and racial data was released earlier this year, it was revealed that Latinos in the United States now number more than 50 million.

The last few days have brought a fresh crop of Latino population growth headlines, these stemming from new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week. The gist: The Latino population in the U.S. rose by 15.2 million between 2000 and 2010, growing four times faster than the nation’s overall growth rate and accounting for half the nation’s population increase of 27.3 million since 2000.

Some states have seen more growth than others, particularly in the South and Midwest (though in California, Latinos were outpaced in growth by Asian Americans).

That’s the big picture, but there have been these interesting news tidbits as well:

  • 28 large cities in the United States now have a Latino majority: Fox News Latino reported that Latinos now make up the majority of the population in 28 U.S. cities of more than 100,000 residents. Most of these cities are in California, Texas, Florida and New Jersey. In California, these cities include Santa Ana, Salinas, Oxnard and Pomona, all of which are more than 70 percent Latino.
  • The Latino population percentage of East Los Angeles rivals that of Puerto Rico: It’s not just major cities that have notable Latino majorities. According to the same Fox story, unincorporated East Los Angeles is 97 percent Latino, “a percentage surpassed only by Puerto Rico, where 99 percent of citizens are Hispanic.”
  • Texas has the most Latino-majority counties in the country: Out of 82 Latino-majority counties in the United States, 51 are in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported. Not surprisingly, the census results have led to redistricting battles in the Lone Star State. A redistricting map proposed by a legislative redistricting committee would add two Latino-majority districts in Central and South Texas.
  • More Latinos could represent more Democratic votes – or not: A former Obama campaign operative referred to the Latino population growth as a potential “huge weapon” in coming elections in a Huffington Post piece. At the same time, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas told Politico that this could also mean more Republican voters, pointing out the recent victories of Latino GOP candidates from New Mexico, Nevada and Florida, all states with large Latino populations.
  • Latinos aside, Indian Americans are the fastest-growing Asian group: While Chinese Americans still make up the largest Asian demographic in the country, with 22.8% of the country’s Asian population, Indian Americans have had the most population growth, the Wall Street Journal reported. Asian Americans now make up 4.8 of the overall U.S. population.

Latinos account for 16.3 of the overall population. The Pew Hispanic Center has published a chart comparing the nation’s 2000 and 2010 populations by race and ethnicity.