Number of U.S. Residents Speaking a Foreign Language at Home Surges

Karen Zeigler and Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, October 18, 2016

A report by the Center for immigration Studies shows that the number of people who speak a language other than English at home reached an all-time high of nearly 65 million in 2015, with the increases spread throughout every region of the country.

Seven of the top nine states experiencing the largest percentage increases in foreign-language speakers from 1980 to 2015 are located in the southern region of the U.S. But the long-term increases are being felt nationwide: Nevada experienced 1005% growth, Washington 386%, Idaho 228%, and Maryland 335%. More recent large percentage growth in foreign language speakers, 2010-2015, has occurred in unexpected locations: North Dakota, Wyoming, and Oklahoma.

Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and co-author of the new report said, “We are seeing explosive growth in the number of foreign language speakers across the country. A common language, which we may be losing, is part of the glue that holds our country together.”

View the entire report here.

  • States with the largest share of their populations speaking a foreign language in 2015 are California 45%, Texas 35%, New Mexico 34%, New York 31%, New Jersey 31%, Nevada 30%, Florida 29%, Arizona¬† 27%, Hawaii 26%, Illinois 23%, and Massachusetts 23%.
  • States with the largest percentage increase in the number of foreign language speakers 2010 to 2015 were: North Dakota (up 30%), Wyoming (up 24%), Maryland (up 17%), West Virginia (up 16%), Oklahoma and Delaware (up 15%), Florida, Nevada, and Utah (up 14%), Georgia, Minnesota, and Kentucky (up 13%).
  • States with the largest percentage increase in foreign language speakers 1980 to 2015 were: Nevada (up 1005%), Georgia (up 916%), North Carolina (up 729%), Virginia (up 460%), Tennessee (up 414%), Arkansas (up 408%), Washington (up 386%), Florida (up 356%), South Carolina (up 339%), Oregon (up 336%), and Maryland (up 335%).

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