According to a report of the Pew Hispanic Center that focuses on Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, Hispanic population growth in these parts of the South will also have distinctive impacts on public policy, and those impacts have only just begun to be felt.
In order to examine the diversity of demographic and economic experiences at the local level, this report also examines 36 counties in the South that are experiencing especially rapid Hispanic growth.
Some of the major findings in this report include:
• North Carolina (394%), Arkansas (337%), Georgia (300%), Tennessee (278%), South Carolina (211%) and Alabama (208%) registered the highest rate of increase in their Hispanic populations of any states in the U.S. between 1990 and 2000, except for Nevada (217%).
• The rapid growth in the Hispanic population occurred not in isolation but in the context of strong population growth among blacks (21%) and whites (11%) in the new South states.
• The same basic trends have remained in place since 2000 with the growth of both the Hispanic population and the population overall outpacing the national average, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates.
• The growth in the Latino population was even more dramatic at the county level, exceeding 1,000% in some counties and 500% in many others. The dramatic increases occurred across a range of county types, from small, non-metro manufacturing counties throughout North Carolina and north of Atlanta to counties in the heart of large metropolitan areas such as Nashville, Tenn.
• Hispanics in the new settlement areas of the South states are predominantly foreignborn (57%). The immigrants are mostly men (63%) and young (median age 27). Most of these immigrants (62%) lack even a high school diploma, and 57% do not speak English well or do not speak it at all. More than half of these immigrants entered the U.S. between 1995 and 2000, and most lack legal status.
• Rapid and widespread growth in income and employment in the region provided the economic incentives for Hispanics to migrate to new settlement states in the 1990s. Unemployment rates in the new South states and key metropolitan areas within those states were consistently lower than the nationwide rate between 1990 and 2000.
• Economic growth in the new settlement states created jobs for an additional 410,000 Hispanic workers and 1.9 million non-Hispanic workers in the 1990s.
• Several counties in the new settlement areas not only retained a manufacturing base but added manufacturing jobs in the 1990s. Hispanic workers in these counties accounted for 41% of the total increase in employment. Moreover, 57% of Latino workers in these counties were employed in manufacturing in 2000.
• Another group of counties in the new settlement areas retained strong ties to manufacturing but also made transitions into other sectors during the 1990s. Nearly 43% of Hispanic workers in those counties were engaged in manufacturing in 2000.
• Larger counties with more diverse economic bases provided fewer job opportunities in manufacturing but 30 percent of Hispanic workers found employment in the construction industry alone.
• The median annual income of Hispanic workers in the new South was about $16,000. In manufacturing counties this was about 60% of the earnings of white workers. However, in the larger counties with diverse economies the earnings of Latino workers were only 47% of the earnings of white workers.
• The Hispanic school-age population (ages 5 through 17) in the new settlement areas of the South grew by 322% between 1990 and 2000. Over the same period, the corresponding white population grew by just 10% and the black population by 18%.
• The Hispanic population of preschool age (4 or younger) increased by 382 percent between 1990 and 2000, and the number of Hispanics added was far larger than the number of whites (110,000 vs. 43,000).
• By the 2001-2002 school year, Hispanics accounted for 4 percent of school enrollment, but by 2007-2008 the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education projects they will make up 10 percent of the primary and secondary school students in the six new settlement states of the South.
• The number of Spanish-speaking children in the region with limited proficiency in English in 1990 was 18,000. By 2000 that number had increased to 64,000.
• The poverty rate among Latinos in the six Southern new settlement states jumped from 19.7% to 25.5% between 1990 and 2000—a 30% increase compared with a 4% drop for Latinos nationwide. Meanwhile the overall poverty rate in these states dropped by 7% over the decade.
• In the six Southern states, 65% of Latinos are renters compared with 52 percent of Latinos nationwide and 21% of whites and 44% of blacks in the new settlement states.
• The impact of an influx of Latino immigrants on the region’s housing is notable because Latinos have more children on average than non-Hispanics and Latino households frequently include members of an extended family or nonrelatives. The average number of people in Hispanic households in the South (3.8) was significantly larger than in either white (2.4) or black (2.7) households in the region.
Read complete report (Acrobat Reader needed) at Pew Hispanic center