Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 2004

From the U.S. Census Bureau


In 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). During this month, America celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.


39.9 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2003, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest race or ethnic minority. Hispanics constitute 13.7 percent of the nation’s total population. (This estimate does not include the 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.)
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102.6 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics would constitute 24 percent of the nation’s total population on that date. <>

Nearly 67 million
The number of people of Hispanic origin who would have been added to the nation’s population between 2000 and 2050, according to this projection. The projected percentage increase —
188 percent — would amount to a near tripling.

The proportion of Hispanic-origin people who are of Mexican background. Of the remainder,
14 percent are of Central and South American backgrounds, 9 percent Puerto Rican, 4 percent Cuban and 7 percent other Hispanic origins. <>

The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lives in California and Texas. California is home to 11.9 million Hispanics and Texas to 7.3 million. More than 3-in-4 Hispanics live in seven states, which have Hispanic populations of 1 million or more. They are California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey.

The proportion of New Mexico’s population that is Hispanic, highest of any state. California and Texas were next, at 34 percent each.


8.5 million
The number of Hispanic families who reside in the United States. Of these families, 63 percent include their own children under 18 years old. <>

The percentage of Hispanic families consisting of a married couple.

The percentage of Hispanic families consisting of a married couple with children under 18. <>

Spanish Language

29 million
The number of U.S. residents age 5 and older who speak Spanish at home. Spanish speakers constitute a ratio of more than 1-in-10 U.S. residents. Among all those who speak Spanish at home, more than one-half say they speak English “very well.
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Coming to America

The percentage of the Hispanic population that was foreign-born in 2002. Among the foreign-born Hispanic population that year, 52 percent entered the United States between 1990 and 2002. <>

The percentage of Hispanic children with at least one foreign-born parent.

9.9 million
The number of foreign-born people in 2002 who were born in Mexico, by far more than any other Latin American country or any other country in the world for that matter. Other Latin American countries of origin with more than half a million foreign-born were Cuba (887,000), El Salvador (873,000), the Dominican Republic (654,000), Colombia (566,000) and Guatemala (511,000). Overall, there are 17.3 million foreign-born people from Latin American countries. <>

Income and Poverty

The real median income of Hispanic households in 2002, down 2.9 percent from the previous year. <>

The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2002, unchanged from 2001.


The percentage of Hispanics 25 and over who had at least a high school education in 2003, up from 53 percent a decade earlier.

The percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2003, up from 9 percent a decade earlier.

Native residents of Hispanic origin had much higher high-school completion rates (74 percent) and college completion rates (14 percent) in 2003 than their foreign-born counterparts (45 percent and 10 percent, respectively).

2.6 million
The number of Hispanics 18 and over who have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is more than double the number in 1990 (1.1 million).
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The number of Hispanic physicians and surgeons. Latinos are represented in a wide variety of occupations. For instance, there are about 51,400 Hispanic postsecondary teachers; 34,700 chief executives of businesses; 28,600 lawyers; 5,400 news analysts, reporters and correspondents; and 650 legislators. <>

The percentage of Hispanics who work in service occupations. Another 21 percent work as operators and laborers and 14 percent in managerial and professional occupations. The percentages of Hispanics working in service occupations as operators and laborers were not statistically different.

Proud to Serve

1.1 million
The number of Latino veterans of the U.S. armed forces. About 63,000 Hispanic-origin people were on active duty in 2002 in the United States.