Five Facts about Hispanics for Hispanic Heritage Month

Article by Drew Desilver of the PewResearchCenter

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, a period chosen because it bookends the independence days of five Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18), as well as Columbus Day/Dia de la Raza (Oct. 14 this year in the United States). In honor of the event, here are five key facts about U.S. Hispanics:

  • 1. Geography: Although there’s been some dispersion in recent years, the Hispanic population remains highly concentrated. More than half (55%) of the nation’s Hispanics live in just three states — California, Texas and Florida — and 71% live in just 100 of the nation’s 3,143 counties and county-equivalents.
  • 2. Population size: According to the Census Bureau, there were 51.9 million U.S. Hispanics in 2011 (its latest estimate, for 2012, is just over 53 million). The Hispanic population grew 47.5% between 2000 and 2011, according to a Pew Research analysis, and accounted for more than half (55%) of total population growth over that period.
  • 3. Countries of origin: The umbrella term “Hispanic” embraces a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. However, nearly two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics trace their family origins to Mexico; Puerto Ricans, the nation’s second-largest Hispanic-origin group, make up 9.5% of the total Hispanic population.
  • 4. Educational attainment: College enrollment among Hispanic high school graduates has risen over the past decade: According to the Census Bureau, 49% of young Hispanic high-school graduates were enrolled in college in 2012, surpassing the rate for white (47%) and black (45%) high-school grads.
  • 5. Language usage: A record 35 million (74%) Hispanics ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home. Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the United States. Nearly all U.S. Hispanics say it’s important that future generations speak Spanish.

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