11 facts for National Hispanic Heritage MonthNational Hispanic Heritage Month began this week to celebrate Latinos and their culture and history. Started as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, it was expanded to a month by President Ronald Reagan and enacted into law in 1988. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica celebrated their independence days Monday followed by Mexico today and Chile on Thursday.
Here are 11 facts that look at Latinos in the U.S. by age, geography and origin groups.
1 The U.S. Hispanic population now stands at over 54.1 million, making them the nation’s second-largest racial or ethnic group. Today Hispanics make up 17% of the U.S. population, up from 5% in 1970.
2 People of Mexican origin account for two-thirds (34 million) of the nation’s Latinos. Those of Puerto Rican origin are the next largest group at 4.9 million (with another 3.5 million on the island of Puerto Rico). There are five other Hispanic origin groups with more than 1 million people each: Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Colombians.
3 There is diversity among Latino origin groups in major metro areas. Mexicans make up 78% of Latinos in the Los Angeles area but, in the New York City area, Puerto Ricans (28%) and Dominicans (21%) are the largest groups. Meanwhile, Salvadorans (32%) are most numerous in the Washington, D.C., metro area, and Cubans (54%) are the largest group in Miami.
4 The share foreign born among Hispanics varies by origin group. Just one-third (34%) of Mexican-origin Hispanics are foreign born. That’s far lower than among the other major groups – Cuban (56% foreign born), Salvadoran (60%), Dominican (56%), Guatemalan (65%) and Colombian (63%). (Most Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens at birth.)
5 As the population of U.S.-born Latinos booms and the arrival of new immigrants slows, the share of Hispanics who are immigrants — as opposed to those who are born here — is on the decline. From 2007 to 2012, the number of Latino immigrants increased slightly, from 18 million to 18.8 million. But they constituted a smaller overall share of the Latino population — decreasing from 40% to 36% over the same time period.
6 Latinos are the youngest of the major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. At 27 years, the median age of Latinos is a full decade lower than that of the U.S. overall (37 years). Among Latinos, there is a big difference in median age between the U.S.-born (18 years) and foreign-born (40 years).
7 The number of young Latinos has rapidly increased. From 1993 to 2013, the number of Latinos younger than 18 in the U.S. more than doubled (107% increase), compared with an 11% increase among the general U.S. population younger than 18, according to Census Bureau data. In any given year, more than 800,000 young Latinos turn 18.
8 Latinos make up the largest group of immigrants in most states, mostly because Mexico is the biggest source of immigrants in 33 states. In some states, though, other Hispanic groups are the largest: El Salvador is the top country of birth among immigrants in Virginia and Maryland, the Dominican Republic leads in New York and Rhode Island and Cuba is the top place of birth for immigrants in Florida.
9 A majority of Latino adults (55%) say they are Catholic, while 16% are evangelical Protestants and 5% are mainline Protestants. The share who say they are Catholic has declined from 67% in 2010. Mexicans and Dominicans are more likely than other Hispanic origin groups to say they are Catholic. Meanwhile, Salvadorans are more likely to say they are evangelical Protestants than Mexicans, Cubans and Dominicans.
10 A record 25.2 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in 2014, up from 21.3 million in 2010. But during the last midterm election, the voter turnout rate of Hispanics (31%) lagged behind whites (49%) and blacks (44%).
11 More than 35 million Latinos speak Spanish at home. About 38% say Spanish is their dominant language, compared with 25% who are English-dominant and 36% who are bilingual, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos.