Feb 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Not just the coasts and Southwest — Latinos are everywhere

Reproduced from Pew Research

The Houston area had the biggest bump in Latino residents while the rate of Latino population grew fastest in three North Dakota counties, according to a new study.

Why it matters: The Pew Research Center analysis shows where the U.S. Latino population was booming and shifting as it reached 62.1 million in 2020 — 18.7% of the total U.S. population.

By the numbers: The study found that the numerical growth of Hispanics was largest in counties that already had significant Latino populations.

Yes, but: The growth rate was largest in counties with traditionally smaller Hispanic populations.

  • The Latino population grew by 50% in over 500 counties with a traditionally low number of Hispanics
  • North Dakota, the state with the fastest Hispanic population growth (148%) thanks to oil-producing jobs, had the top two fastest-growing counties: McKenzie (+1,002%) and Williams (+794%).

But, but, but: Several of these smaller but fast-growing counties in the South have private prisons that serve as federal immigration detention centers, where detainees who are often moved around are counted in the Census, which could affect the numbers.

  • On April 1, 2020, detainees held in these facilities are counted as part of the county’s population and can affect percentage growth.

Don't forget: Houston’s Harris County has been the site of some of the most significant Mexican American civil rights movements in U.S. Latino history, from President John F. Kennedy's 1963 visit to the 1978 Moody Park Riots.

  • However, Houston has never elected a Hispanic mayor.
  • In 2018, Harris County elected Lina Hidalgo, a Colombian immigrant, as county judge — the county's chief executive and emergency manager. She's the first Latina to hold that position.

Fun fact: New Mexico remains the most Hispanic state in the nation, where around 1 million residents are Latino, almost half of the state's population (48%).

  • But in 2020, Georgia, North Carolina, Washington and Pennsylvania now all have Latino populations bigger than New Mexico's Hispanic population.

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