An estimated 2.0 million Hispanics of Salvadoran origin resided in the United States in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Salvadorans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Salvadoran origin; this means either they themselves are Salvadoran immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to El Salvador. Salvadorans are the third-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 3.8% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2011. Mexicans, the nation’s largest Hispanic origin group, constituted 33.5 million, or 64.6%, of the Hispanic population in 2011.1
This statistical profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of the Salvadoran population with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall. It is based on tabulations from the 2011 American Community Survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Key facts include:
- Immigration status. Six-in-ten Salvadorans (60%) in the United States are foreign born compared with 36% of Hispanics and 13% of the U.S. population overall. Nearly two-thirds of immigrants from El Salvador (64%) arrived in the U.S. in 1990 or later. About three-in-ten Salvadoran immigrants (29%) are U.S. citizens.
- Language. Nearly half (48%) of Salvadorans ages 5 and older speak English proficiently.2 The other 52% of Salvadorans report speaking English less than very well, compared with 34% of all Hispanics.
- Age. Salvadorans are younger than the U.S. population but older than Hispanics overall. The median age of Salvadorans is 29; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 37 and 27, respectively.
- Marital status. Salvadorans ages 15 and older are less likely to be married (42%) than Hispanics overall (43%) and the U.S. population overall (48%).
- Fertility. About one-in-ten (8%) Salvadoran women ages 15 to 44 gave birth in the 12 months prior to this survey. That was the same as the rate for all Hispanic women—8%—and slightly higher than the overall rate for U.S. women—6%. Almost half (48%) of Salvadoran women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was similar to the rate for all Hispanic women—47%—and greater than the overall rate for U.S. women—38%.
- Regional dispersion. Salvadorans are concentrated in the West (40%), mostly in California (35%), and in the South (41%), mostly in Texas (14%) and in Virginia (7%).
- Educational attainment. Salvadorans have lower levels of education than the Hispanic population overall and the U.S. population overall. Less than one-in-ten (7%) Salvadorans ages 25 and older—compared with 13% of all U.S. Hispanics and 29% among the U.S. population—have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Income. The median annual personal earnings for Salvadorans ages 16 and older were $20,000 in the year prior to the survey, the same as the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics; the median earnings for the U.S. population were $29,000.
- Poverty status. The share of Salvadorans who live in poverty, 23%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (16%) and less than the rate for Hispanics overall (26%).
- Health Insurance. About four-in-ten Salvadorans (39%) do not have health insurance compared with 30% of all Hispanics and 15% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 15% of Salvadorans younger than 18 are uninsured.
- Homeownership. The rate of Salvadoran homeownership (41%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (46%) and lower than the 65% rate for the U.S. population as a whole.
About the Data
This statistical profile of Hispanics of Salvadoran origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. The data used for this statistical profile come from 2011 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), representing a 1% sample of the U.S. population.
Like any survey, estimates from the ACS are subject to sampling error and (potentially) measurement error. Information on the ACS sampling strategy and associated error is available at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/methodology/methodology_main/. An example of measurement error is that citizenship rates for the foreign born are estimated to be overstated in the Decennial Census and other official surveys, such as the ACS (see Jeffrey Passel. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2007)). Finally, estimates from the ACS may differ from the Decennial Census or other Census Bureau surveys due to differences in methodology and data collection procedures (see, for example, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/methodology/ASA_nelson.pdf, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/laborfactsheet092209.html and http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/datasources/factsheet.html).