March 15, 2011 | USA Today | Original Article

Hispanic growth outpaced estimates

The Hispanic population grew more dramatically than expected in states with smaller and newer immigrant populations, according to an analysis of Census data out today.

The 2010 Census counted almost 600,000 more Hispanics than the Census Bureau had estimated in the 33 states for which data have been released so far, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Twenty-eight states had more Hispanics than expected.

The Census count of 38.7 million Hispanics is 1.5% higher than the bureau's estimates.

"Hispanics are in some places growing faster than we had thought," Pew demographer Jeffrey Passel says. "This sort of broad pattern suggests immigration into these new areas was a bit higher."

Number gap

The 2010 Census found 590,000 more Hispanics than the Census Bureau had estimated in 28 of the 33 states released so far. Most of them are states with smaller and newer immigrant populations.

State Hispanics Increase from
Ala. 186,000 15.9%
Ariz. 1,895,000 -8.7%
Ark. 186,000 3.4%
Calif. 14,014,000 0.7%
Colo. 1,039,000 -0.4%
Conn. 479,000 7.5%
Del. 73,000 10.4%
Hawaii 121,000 2.6%
Idaho 176,000 3.3%
Ill. 2,028,000 1.1%
Ind. 390,000 8%
Iowa 152,000 8.5%
Kan. 300,000 10.8%
La. 193,000 13.2%
Md. 471,000 10.7%
Miss. 81,000 4.8%
Mo. 212,000 0.7%
Neb. 167,000 7%
Nev. 717,000 0%
N.J. 1,555,000 4.6%
N.C. 800,000 7.2%
Ohio 355,000 5.5%
Okla. 332,000 5.5%
Ore. 450,000 2.2%
Pa. 720,000 7.5%
S.D. 22,000 -10.1%
Texas 9,461,000 0.9%
Utah 358,000 1%
Vt. 9,000 -3.3%
Va. 632,000 6.7%
Wash. 756,000 6.1%
Wis. 336,000 9.1%
Wyo. 50 9.7%

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

The Census found 186,000 Hispanics in Alabama— 26,000 more than estimated. In North Carolina, Hispanics total 800,000, or 54,000 more than was estimated. Louisiana, where construction jobs soared after Hurricane Katrina, the Census counted 22,000 Hispanics — or 13.2% — more than estimated.

The underestimates show that immigrants continue to spread into the South and the Midwest from traditional gateways, such as California and New York.

"When they do these population estimates, they build on existing data," Passel says. "The data don't always pick up on new trends."

In Arizona, the opposite happened: The Census counted almost 1.9 million Hispanics, 8.7% or 180,000 fewer than estimated.

Arizona passed tough immigration laws and beefed up enforcement against the undocumented, which pushed some out of state and discouraged others from responding to the government count. Arizona's participation in the 2010 Census was 69%, below the national rate of 74%.

"The whole toxic environment against immigrants in Arizona probably contributed to the suppression of the count," says Arturo Vargas, of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The recession was expected to encourage immigrants to return to their countries of origin, but it does not seem to have had a significant impact.

"It could be an indication that what we had thought was a falloff in immigration is not as severe," says Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates immigration controls.

In 2000, the estimate of 274.5 million was about 7 million short of the Census count. Much of the gap was due to a low estimate of Hispanics — mostly illegal immigrants.