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Hispanics of Salvadoran Origin in the United States, 2009

Statistical Profile

An estimated 1.7 million Hispanics of Salvadoran origin resided in the United States in 2009, 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 3.6% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2009. Mexicans, the nation’s largest Hispanic origin group, constituted 31.7 million, or 65.5%, of the Hispanic population in 2009.1

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 2009 American Community Survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.2 Key facts include:

  • Immigration status. Nearly two-thirds of Salvadorans (63%) in the United States are foreign born, compared with 37% of Hispanics and 13% of the U.S. population overall. Most immigrants from El Salvador (62%) arrived in the U.S. in 1990 or later. Three-in-ten of Salvadoran immigrants (28%) are U.S. citizens.
  • Language. Less than half of Salvadorans (45%) speak English proficiently.3
  • Age. Salvadorans are younger than the U.S. population and older than Hispanics overall. The median age of Salvadorans is 29; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 36 and 27, respectively.
  • Marital status. Less than half of Salvadorans (45%) and Hispanics overall (45%) are married.
  • Fertility. More than four-in-ten (44%) of Salvadoran women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was higher than the rate for all Hispanic women—40%—and the rate for U.S. women—35%.
  • Regional dispersion. Two-thirds of Salvadorans (35%) live in California, and one-in-seven (15%) live in Texas.
  • Educational attainment. Salvadorans have lower levels of education than the Hispanic population overall. Fifty-three percent of Salvadorans ages 25 and older—compared with 39% of all U.S. Hispanics—have not obtained at least a high school diploma.
  • Income. The median annual personal earnings for Salvadorans ages 16 and older were $20,000 in 2009; the median earnings for the U.S. population were $28,900.
  • Poverty status. The share of Salvadorans who live in poverty, 19%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (14%) and below the 23% share among all Hispanics.
  • Health Insurance. Four-in-ten Salvadorans (41%) do not have health insurance compared with 31% of all Hispanics and 15% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 20% of Salvadorans younger than 18 are uninsured.
  • Homeownership. The rate of Salvadoran homeownership (45%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (48%) and the U.S. population (66%) as a whole.

About the Data

This statistical profile of Hispanics of Salvadoran origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2009 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 2009 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 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, 2009)). 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,, and


  1. Percentages are computed before numbers are rounded.
  2. The 2010 Census did not collect data on most of the characteristics tabulated in this profile.
  3. This includes Salvadorans ages 5 and older who report speaking only English at home or speaking English very well.
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