September 15, 2016

10 facts for National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sept. 15, celebrates U.S. Latinos, their culture and their history. Started in 1968 by Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week, it was expanded to a month in 1988. The celebration begins in the middle rather than the start of September because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate theirs on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept 21.

Here are some key facts about the nation’s Latino population by age, geography and origin groups.

1The U.S. Hispanic population now stands at 57 million, making Hispanics the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial or ethnic group after Asians. Today Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population, up from 5% in 1970.

2A record 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to vote in 2016, up from 23.3 million in 2012. But during the last presidential election, Latinos (48.0%) lagged behind blacks (66.6%) and whites (64.1%) in their voter turnout rate

3People of Mexican origin account for about two-thirds (35.3 million) of the nation’s Hispanics. Those of Puerto Rican origin are the next largest group, at 5.3 million, and their numbers have been growing due to a historic increase in migration from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland. (About 3.5 million live on the island.) There are five other Hispanic origin groups with more than 1 million people each: Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Colombians.

4As the population of U.S.-born Latinos booms and the arrival of new immigrants slows, the share of Latinos who are immigrants – as opposed to those who are born here – is on the decline across all Latino origin groups. From 2007 to 2014, the number of Latino immigrants increased slightly, from 18 million to 19.3 million. But they constituted a smaller overall share of the Latino population – decreasing from 40% to 35% over the same time period.  The share of foreign born among Latinos varies by origin group. Just one-third (33%) of Mexican-origin Latinos are foreign born. That’s far lower than among the other major groups – Cuban (57% foreign born), Salvadoran (59%), Dominican (54%), Guatemalan (63%) and Colombian (64%). (People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens at birth.)

5Diversity among Hispanic origin groups varies between major metropolitan areas. Mexicans make up 79% of Hispanics in the Los Angeles metro area. But the New York City area is less dominated by one group, with Puerto Ricans (27%) and Dominicans (21%) being the most populous. The same is true in the Washington, D.C., metro area, where Salvadorans (33%) are most numerous, and in the Miami area, where Cubans (43%) are the largest group; in these areas, the largest share of Hispanics by origin doesn’t constitute a majority of the Hispanic population.

6Hispanics are the youngest of the major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. At 28 years, the median age of Hispanics is nearly a full decade lower than that of the U.S. overall (37 years). Among Hispanics, there is a big difference in median age between those born in the U.S. (19 years) and the foreign born (41 years). In 2014, about a quarter of Hispanics, or 14.6 million, were Millennials (ages 18 to 33).

7Millennials make up almost half (44%) of the Hispanic electorate in 2016. Hispanic millennials will likely continue to drive growth of the Hispanic electorate, given the median age of U.S.-born Hispanics is only 19. In addition, in any given year, more than 800,000 young Hispanics turn 18.

8Latinos 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.

9A majority of Hispanic 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.

10The share of Latinos in the U.S. who speak English proficiently is growing. In 2013, 68% of Latinos ages 5 and older spoke English proficiently, up from 59% in 2000. U.S.-born Latinos are driving this growth, as their share on this measure has grown from 81% to 89% during the same time period. By comparison, 34% of Latino immigrants spoke English proficiently in 2013, a percentage little changed since 1980. While speaking Spanish remains an important part of Latino culture, 71% of Latino adults say it is not necessary to speak Spanish to be considered Latino.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on Sept. 16, 2014.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Hispanic/Latino Vote

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

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34 Comments

  1. Anonymous2 weeks ago

    Excellent statistics. They convey a message.

    Reply
  2. Brandon Islas6 months ago

    No way any proud hispanic would identify as white.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous6 days ago

      “Hispanic” defines a cultural heritage, regardless of race. There are Hispanic whites, Hispanic blacks, Hispanic Asians, Hispanic indigenous peoples, etc. An alternative term to consider for further inclusion is “Iberian” as that would include both Spain and Portugal as the mother-lands (the Iberian Peninsula). By default, this would include Brazil, the largest country and population in Latin America, which is most often left out of this ethnic mix.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous6 days ago

      I’m a proud Hispanic and I Check the white box because I’m not black or Asian. That’s the only box that fits my skin color unless they add an olive box.

      Reply
  3. keith carey10 months ago

    I’m classified as white and I know lots and lots of Hispanic descent people classify as white,thus they check non Hispanic, cause you can’t say both,sadly 17%is low, I’m from experience and the popularaity of whiteness,there are way way more people in USA of Hispanic heritage,I’d say 25%

    Reply
  4. Megan Beck11 months ago

    I was debating with someone about how much more intouch the hispanic communities are with their culture than African Americans are.. I couldn’t give a percentage, would some one like to help me out?

    Reply
  5. saleyah wofford1 year ago

    I luv this website

    Reply
  6. Michael1 year ago

    All Puerto Ricans I met were in the Marines. All were really cool people with me.

    Reply
  7. victor coyotl1 year ago

    Reguarding race confusion PROTO MONGOLOID is the RACE of the aboriginal brown skin people of the western hemisphere like Mexicans and central america. The latins and the HIspanics are the white skinned caucasoid people who came from Europe and killed and enslaved the aboriginal people, outlawed their languages, cultures, and are still robbing their land to this day. “Latino” and “Hispanic” is nothing more than a white slave idenity which is the same as being called the “N” word embraced by confused self hating aboriginals. Latino/Hispanic white slave I.D. = “N” word.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous2 weeks ago

      DUDE GET real what are you smoking so let me ask you if you are not latino or hispanic then what are you

      Reply
  8. N. Ochoa2 years ago

    According to wikipedia:

    “Government has defined Hispanic or Latino persons as being “persons who trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America (except for Brazil), and other Spanish cultures”. This includes Spain which is the origin of Spanish culture.”

    Reply
  9. Franco Forte2 years ago

    Pew people, please, define who is latino for you. Anyone speaking Spanish? Anyone coming from Hispanic countries? Anyone coming from a country speaking a latin derived language?Let me tell you that a Spaniard is an European and never a “Latino” as your standards. A Quebecois is as Latino as a Haitian, both speaking a latin derived language. Is a Brazilian a Latino?. Your records never included them. Are they just Brazilian for you? People from Belize or Bermuda, are they Anglo? As you may know Latino refers to people living in an Italian region called Latina. Then derived to a language, not a nation or a ethnic group. Never called Latino to a Northern Italian, neither to a Frenchman or Spaniard because they will think how illiterate you are.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous4 months ago

      true dat

      Reply
  10. silver lake2 years ago

    Mostly likely before it came a Commonwealth of the United States But I would assume most of those people have died out. 1952 is the year every P.R is a U.S citizen.

    Reply JACQUELINE BLOOMQUIST • 3 days ago

    MY GRANDMOTHER CAME FROM A MEXICO CITY ORPHANAGE TO LOS ANGELES AND THEN SAN FRANCISCO. I AM PROUD OF HER, SHE WAS A LOVE.

    Reply
    Carolina Fernandez • 6 days ago

    …and Venezuelans population are growing so fast due the Dictatorship that is ruining our beautiful Country. #VenezuelaDiesYouSilence !!! in these days I don’t have much to celebrate…

    Reply
    Claudio D RuMed • 7 days ago

    I notice the chart shows data on selected metro areas. Is there similar data to be shared on areas where Latino population has risen in great numbers lately, such as the South, the Midwest, and Northeastern/Northwestern areas of the States even if it’s from 2011 as well?

    Reply
    alberto juarez • 1 week ago

    As a teacher in both the area of Chicano Studies and Political Science, I understand the complexities of this discussion and the divergent points of view – the debate is important as the future generations of Mexican/Latino/Hispanics/Ladinos/creoles, and others try to define our selves to the world. One group in particular that is unfortunately left out of the discussion quite often are indigenous

    Reply
  11. JACQUELINE BLOOMQUIST2 years ago

    MY GRANDMOTHER CAME FROM A MEXICO CITY ORPHANAGE TO LOS ANGELES AND THEN SAN FRANCISCO. I AM PROUD OF HER, SHE WAS A LOVE.

    Reply
  12. Carolina Fernandez2 years ago

    …and Venezuelans population are growing so fast due the Dictatorship that is ruining our beautiful Country. #VenezuelaDiesYouSilence !!! in these days I don’t have much to celebrate…

    Reply
    1. Franco Forte2 years ago

      Carolina, if you apply this rule to Venezuela, please also apply it to Mexico, El Salvador, República Dominicana, Colombia, etc. They are millions vs a few thousands venezolanos. Please, don’t be simple.

      Reply
      1. Dr Pedro Leon Zapata Mata2 years ago

        Franco Forte…Simple?
        What rule will apply to Mexico? El Salvador or DomRep -Are these populations growing in the US because of a pseudo democratic dictatorship?

        Let me tell you my fellow hispanic descendant friend – those countries, while with many aliments because of economic or political corruption issues, and not…let me emphasize this, NOT suffering from a dictatorship, nor from a cold shoulder from US politics. Do you remember the recent student deaths in Venezuela..no? perhaps because the media was bombarded with the Ukrainian issue.

        but it’s ok – because you are not simple, right? Your comment denotes otherwise.

        Those of us with hispanic roots – hispanics coming from the latin word Hispania (also Hispaniam or Ispania) – Spanish descendants should be proud of our heritage, but celebrate the fact that we can share it in this wonderful country: USA.

        Reply
  13. Claudio D RuMed2 years ago

    I notice the chart shows data on selected metro areas. Is there similar data to be shared on areas where Latino population has risen in great numbers lately, such as the South, the Midwest, and Northeastern/Northwestern areas of the States even if it’s from 2011 as well?

    Reply
  14. alberto juarez2 years ago

    As a teacher in both the area of Chicano Studies and Political Science, I understand the complexities of this discussion and the divergent points of view – the debate is important as the future generations of Mexican/Latino/Hispanics/Ladinos/creoles, and others try to define our selves to the world. One group in particular that is unfortunately left out of the discussion quite often are indigenous people of the Americas yet to be hispanicized/europeanized et al. Add to the discussion the various Asian and European communities that have migrated to the Americas and have now become a part of the cultural and ethnic milleiu be they Germans and Italians in South America, or Mennonite Germans in Chihuahua. It really like trying to create a single group that captures and defines “ethnic/racial/cultural group” in the United States as “typically American”. The debate rolls on……

    Reply
    1. Carolina Fernandez2 years ago

      That’s why the statement “We the People” all are immigrants. Very good point yours.

      Reply
  15. Gene Fechhelm2 years ago

    How many and/or % of new arrival Latinos are in the US illegally?

    Reply
    1. Carolina Fernandez2 years ago

      No human being is illegal, besides this is not the point. “We the people” are a 100% foreigners and LEGALLY human being.

      Reply
    2. Franco Forte2 years ago

      Who legallized the Mayflower’s illegal inmigrants ? The indians? The Spaniards already there?

      Reply
  16. Guy Guerrero2 years ago

    It won’t be long now when all the Americas will be predominantly Latin.

    Reply
    1. Jaime Maritnez2 years ago

      From sea to shining sea

      Reply
  17. Andy garcia2 years ago

    Excellent numbers but I am amazed at the Pew Center’s recklessness in mistaking Latino with Hispanics and thus ignoring the non-Hispanic and Latino populations of Brazilians, Haitians and other French and Portuguese speaking areas of Latin America who should be included in this heritage celebration as well (assuming is the Latino Heritage Month was was meant, otherwise then Hispanic Heritage Month do the job) Also, -for the sake of clarity – the Pew should know better and appreciate the racial diversity of Latin American immigrants and thus not equate ethnicity with race. I feel I had to call attention to this. The way to think about this ethnic terms is to think of all Hispanics as being part of a larger group (the Latinos or all those who have origin in Latin America) but let’s remember that these terms are not interchangeable since not all Latinos are Hispanics.

    Reply
    1. Claudio D RuMed2 years ago

      Yes, and the same applies within national origin labels when it comes to ethnicity. And since ones ethnic origin oftentimes is far more pernicious here than back in the rest of the hemisphere in defining who you are within the community you live in, it befuddles me that we haven’t moved past this simplistic labeling culture that seems “(ugh) “hispanics” in such a monochromatic manner.
      It’s that one strangely unique formula that exclusively applies to folks from the Americas, and the only way to escape it exists for those that conveniently identify as white,as it hugely facilitates their far more smoother acceptance into the fold of U.S. society, as I’ve noticed it often happens with white Brazilians in the Northeast, for instance.
      Glad to see you mention Haitians, since their uniqueness tends to be that they face here the same negative racial and ethnic stereotypes they endure with their D.R. neighbors even among African Americans. In that case, it could be a matter of social class issues (manly negative stereotypes and assumptions) coming to play a big factor.

      Reply
    2. Ric2 years ago

      Hispania, a province of Roma Latina was an area that included Portugal and parts of France theerefore Brazillians< Hatians, Guyanase, Spanish and creole Belizians, etc. are also Hispanic, technically.

      Reply
      1. Franco Forte2 years ago

        Roma Latina never existed. Maybe you refer to Roman Empire. Present France, then Gallia, was totally Roman and present England (not Scottland) was Roman as well.

        Reply
  18. Mike moreno2 years ago

    In what instance is a Puerto rican at birth not a u. S. Citizen? Is there a list or site listing the most affluent Puerto rican in the u.s.?

    Reply
    1. Emmanuel2 years ago

      Mostly likely before it came a Commonwealth of the United States But I would assume most of those people have died out. 1952 is the year every P.R is a U.S citizen.

      Reply
      1. Black Jacobin2 years ago

        In response to the “How can there be Puerto Ricans that aren’t US citizens?”:

        Puerto Ricans that were born elsewhere in the world. For instance, its quite normal to see Puerto Ricans that hold Spaniard/US citizenship given that their birthplace was Spain (and later applied for the US citizenship). Or, even more common, people that were born in the Dominican Republic, consider themselves Puerto Ricans, but never became US citizens.

        Additionally, a commenter had stated that citizenship upon birth started in 1952. That’s wrong. PR islanders were granted citizenship upon birth in 1917. Citizenship status was partly the reason why plantation workers of Puerto Rican origin in Hawai’i protested the Big 5 sugarcane corporations in 1917.

        Reply
      2. Amy11 months ago

        President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act in 1917 granting citizenship to all Puerto Ricans.

        Reply