Changing Hispanic Realities

Arts and Media June 2024

The Hispanic population in the U.S. grew significantly from 2010 to 2022, now accounting for 19% of the population, driven by births rather than immigration. The geographic distribution shifted, and educational attainment among Hispanics also increased notably during this period.

The first known census was conducted by the Babylonians in 3800 BCE. But they did not count a single individual. Instead, they counted “livestock as well as quantities of butter, honey, milk, wool, and assorted vegetables.”

The United States launched its first census on August 2, 1790. All individuals were to be counted. It took months to complete, at times by men on horseback. The results disappointed President George Washington who felt it undercounted the actual population. 

Since then, with rare exceptions, a census has been conducted every ten years, with the latest in 2020.

Hispanic changes over the past decade

Readers of Hispanic Outlook know Hispanics/Latinos are the largest minority in the nation. Hispanic increases continue although with some significant changes. 

I’ll detail a few including Hispanic population growth, their geographic distribution and unique characteristics such as language usage, shifting origins and advances in college education. 

According to the Pew Research Center, by 2022, the Hispanic population had risen to 63.6 million, from 50.5 million in 2010. The 26 percent increase in the Hispanic population significantly surpassed the nation’s overall growth of 8 percent. Hispanics now make up one in five people in the country, representing 19 percent of the population, up from 16 percent in 2010.

The U.S. population grew by 24.5 million from 2010 to 2022. Hispanics made up 53 percent of that increase. That’s a greater share than any other racial or ethnic group. 

Interestingly, the number of Hispanics who self-identified as “multiracial” increased dramatically. More than 27 million identified with more than one race in 2022, up from 3 million in 2010. But that may be misleading, for the increase is generally ascribed to changes in the census form that made it possible to select multiple races.

Another consequence was that the number of Latinos who identified as White declined from 26.7 million in 2010 to 10.7 million in 2022.

Mexico leads the way

People of Mexican origin, at an impressive 37.4 million, represented nearly 60 percent of the nation’s Hispanic population in 2022. Puerto Ricans were next, at 5.9 million. But that does not include 3.2 million Puerto Ricans who lived on the island in 2022. The Puerto Rican increase is directly due to migration to all fifty states. 

The island of Puerto Rico has experienced a population loss since 2005. It declined by about 500,000 since 2010, from 3.7 million to 3.2 million. Severe economic stress, a lower fertility rate and migration to the mainland all affected the shift as well as the utter devastation caused by hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017.

Six other “Hispanic origin groups” - Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians and Hondurans - each account for over 1 million individuals. Native born Spaniards made up nearly 1 million U.S. Hispanics in 2020.

Venezuelans had the fastest population growth 

From 2010 to 2022, the Venezuelan-origin migration increased by a whopping 236 percent to 815,000. Four other groups, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Dominicans and Colombians, saw growth rates exceeding 50 percent.

By contrast, the number of Mexican origin people grew by only 14 percent, by far the slowest rate among the most populous origin groups.

Hispanic populations increased by over 1 million in three states

Since 2010 all 50 states saw their Hispanic populations increase. Three states, Texas (2.5 million increase), Florida (1.8 million) and California (1.6 million), made up almost half of the growth nationwide since 2010. Arizona (480,000 increase), New Jersey (464,000) and New York (432,000) had the next largest increases. 

Hispanic populations vary widely across major metropolitan areas

Most of the metro areas in the Midwest, West and South with the largest Hispanic populations are predominantly Mexican. About three-quarters of Hispanics in Chicago (77 percent) and Los Angeles (75 percent) areas identify as Mexican, as do 67 percent in Houston.

Metro areas in the Northeast have more diverse Hispanic origins. For example, no single origin group makes up more than 30 percent of the New York and Boston areas’ Hispanic populations.

Metro areas in Florida and Washington, DC have distinctive Hispanic enclaves. Puerto Ricans make up 43 percent of Hispanics in the Orlando area, while Cubans make up 39 percent in the Miami area. In Washington, D.C., Salvadorans account for 30 percent.

Newborns, not immigrants, are responsible for recent Hispanic growth 

During the 2010s, approximately 1 million Hispanic babies were born each year, slightly more than during the 2000s. At the same time, about 350,000 Hispanic immigrants arrived annually, down substantially from the previous two decades. So native born Hispanic babies, not immigrants, were responsible for the Hispanic population spurt.

This is a reversal of historical trends: in the 1980s and 1990s, immigration drove Hispanic population growth.

Hispanics who speak English are growing

In 2022, 72 percent of Hispanics from age 5 onward “spoke English proficiently,” up from 59 percent in 2000. U.S.-born Latinos who speak English proficiently increased by 9 percentage points, compared with a 5-point increase among Latino immigrants. All told, 42.3 million Latinos spoke English proficiently in 2022.

Concurrently, Hispanics who speak Spanish at home declined from 78 percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2022; most of that decline was among the U.S. born.

Bottom line 

I saved the really good news till the end.

Hispanics attending college have increased significantly since 2010. 

Approximately 45 percent of Hispanics ages 25 and older had some college experience in 2022, up from 36 percent in 2010. 

Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree or more also increased, from 13 percent to 20 percent. Bachelor’s degree attainment or higher increased more among Hispanic women (from 14 percent to 22 percent) than Hispanic men (12 percent to 18 percent).

Hispanics enrolled in college or postgraduate education also increased between 2010 and 2022, from 2.9 million to 4.2 million. 

Among all U.S. undergraduate and graduate students, the share of Latinos increased from 14 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2022, slightly higher than the Latino share of the total population.

All of that is a happy note to end on. Don’t you agree?


-Fisher, Louis (2011): Defending Congress and the Constitution. University Press of Kansas

-Pew Research Center: Key facts about U.S. Latinos for National Hispanic Heritage Month


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