Center for Immigration Studies, October 2015
A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that a record 63.2 million U.S. residents five years of age and older speak a language other than English at home. The number, based on newly released Census Bureau data from the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS), is up 3.6 million since 2010. The largest percentage increases from 2010 to 2014 were for speakers of Arabic and Urdu (Pakistan’s national language). As a share of the population, more than one in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home.
Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research and author of the report, states, “These numbers are a stark reminder that immigration is not just an economic issue. A common language is part of the glue that holds our country together. After the last great wave of immigration more than a century ago, the level of immigration was reduced and remained low for about half a century. This certainly helped with assimilation. But with no pause in immigration levels in sight, the nation is headed into uncharted territory.”
View the entire report here.
Among the findings:
In 2014, a record 63.2 million U.S. residents (native-born, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants) spoke a language other than English at home. That number is up 16.2 million since 2000, up 3.6 million since 2010, and up 1.4 million just since 2013.
Taking a longer view, since 1990 the number of foreign language speakers has roughly doubled; the number has almost tripled since 1980.
As a share of the population, 21 percent of U.S. residents speak a foreign language at home.
The largest percentage increases from 2010 to 2014 were among speakers of Arabic (up 29 percent), Urdu (up 23 percent), Hindi (up 19 percent), Chinese and Hmong (both up 12 percent), and Gujarati and Persian (both up 9 percent). Urdu is spoken in Pakistan; Hindi and Guajarati are languages of India; Hmong is spoken in Laos; Persian is spoken in Iran.
The largest numerical increases from 2010 to 2014 were among speakers of Spanish (up 2.3 million), Chinese (up 331,000), Arabic (up 252,000), Tagalog (up 115,000), Hindi (up 114,000), and Urdu (up 89,000). Tagalog is spoken in the Philippines.
Languages with more than a million speakers in 2014 were Spanish (39. 3 million), Chinese (3.1 million),Tagalog (1.7 million), Vietnamese (1.5 million), French (1.2 million), and Korean and Arabic (1.1 million each).
Of school-age children (five to 17), 22 percent speak a foreign language at home.
Many of those who speak a foreign language at home are not immigrants. Of the more than 63 million foreign language speakers, 44 percent (27.7 million) were actually born in the United States.
Of those who speak a foreign language at home, 25.6 million (41 percent) told the Census Bureau that they speak English less than very well.
States with the largest share of their populations speaking a foreign language in 2014 were California (44 percent), New Mexico (37 percent), Texas (36 percent), Nevada and New Jersey (both 31 percent), New York (30 percent), Florida (28 percent), Arizona (27 percent), Hawaii (25 percent), Illinois and Massachusetts (both 23 percent), Connecticut (22 percent), and Rhode Island (21 percent).
States with the largest percentage increase in foreign language speakers 2010 to 2014 were: North Dakota (up 18 percent); Wyoming (up 15 percent); Nevada (up 14 percent); Oklahoma and Tennessee (both up 13 percent); Delaware and Oregon (both up 12 percent); Kentucky and Utah (both up 11 percent); Virginia up 10 percent; Texas, Florida, and Georgia (all up 9 percent); and Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Washington state (all up 8 percent).
States with the largest percentage increase in foreign language speakers from 1980 to 2014 were: Nevada (up 1,001 percent), Georgia (up 875 percent), North Carolina (up 702 percent), Virginia (up 446 percent), Tennessee (up 416 percent), Arkansas (up 380 percent), Washington state (up 367 percent), Oregon (up 340 percent), South Carolina (up 338 percent), Florida (up 337 percent), Utah (up 316 percent), and Maryland (up 300 percent).