Since 2000 Hispanics have accounted for more than half (50.5%) of the overall population growth in the United States — a significant new demographic milestone for the nation’s largest minority group. During the 1990s, the Hispanic population also expanded rapidly, but in that decade its growth accounted for less than 40% of the nation’s total population increase. In a reversal of past trends, Latino population growth in the new century has been more a product of the natural increase (births minus deaths) of the existing population than it has been of new international migration. As of mid-2007, Hispanics accounted for 15.1% of the total U.S. population.
Since 2000 many Latinos have settled in counties that once had few Latinos, continuing a pattern that began in the previous decade. But there are subtle differences in Hispanic settlement patterns in the current decade compared with those of the 1990s. The dispersion of Latinos in the new century has tilted more to counties in the West and the Northeast. Despite the new tilt, however, the South accounted for a greater share of overall Latino population growth than any other region in the new century. There is also an ever-growing concentration of Hispanic population growth in metropolitan areas. These findings emerge from the Pew Hispanic Center’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2007 county population estimates, supplemented by 1990 and 2000 county population counts from the Decennial Censuses.