Facts on U.S. Latinos, 2015

Antonio Flores, Pew Research Center, September 18, 2017

There were 56.5 million Hispanics in the United States in 2015, accounting for 17.6% of the total U.S. population. In 1980, with a population of 14.8 million, Hispanics made up just 6.5% of the total U.S. population.


Since 1960, the nation’s Latino population has increased nearly nine fold, from 6.3 million then to 56.5 million by 2015. It is projected to grow to 107 million by 2065, according to the latest Pew Research Center projections.


The foreign-born Latino population has increased to nearly 20 times its size over the past half century, from less than 1 million in 1960 to 19.4 million in 2015.


The share of the U.S. population that is Hispanic has been steadily rising over the past half century. In 2015, Hispanics made up 17.6% of the total U.S. population, up from 3.5% in 1960.


Between 1980 and 2000, immigration was the principal driver of Latino population growth as the Latino immigrant population boomed from 4.2 million to 14.1 million. Since then, however, the primary source of this growth has been U.S. births. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 9.6 million Latino births in the U.S., while the number of newly arrived immigrants was 6.5 million.


English proficiency is rising among Hispanics ages 5 and older. In 2015, 69% of Hispanics said they speak only English at home or indicate that they speak English “very well”, up from 59% who said the same in 1980. Most of this growth has been driven by U.S.-born Hispanics, whose English proficiency share has grown from 71.9% in 1980 to 89.7% in 2015.

By contrast, English proficiency among foreign-born Hispanics has seen little change over the same period. In 2015, just 34.6% of foreign-born Hispanics reported that they speak only English at home or speak English “very well”, a slight increase from 30.7% in 1980.

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