September 15-October 15, 2005

By 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.

Editor’s Note: Clicking any link on this page will open a new browser window leading to more detailed information at the site of the U.S. Census Bureau.



41.3 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2004, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest race or ethnic minority. Hispanics constituted 14 percent of the nation’s total population. (This estimate does not include the 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.)

Of every two people added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2004, were Hispanic.

102.6 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 24 percent of the nation’s total population on that date.

22.4 million
The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990 census [PDF] — just slightly over half the current total.

Roughly half of the nation’s Dominicans live in New York City, with about half of the nation’s Cubans residing in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

States and Counties

The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lives in California or Texas. California is home to 12.4 million Hispanics, and Texas is home to 7.8 million.

The number of states with at least half a million Hispanic residents. These states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington.

The proportion of New Mexico’s population that is Hispanic, highest of any state. Hispanics also make up more than one-third of the population in California and Texas, at 35 percent each.

4.6 million
The Hispanic population of Los Angeles County, Calif. — the largest of any county in the nation.

The proportion of Hispanic-origin people who are of Mexican background. Another approximately 10 percent are of Puerto Rican background, with about 3 percent each of Cuban, Salvadoran and Dominican origins. The remainder are of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origins.

Spanish Language

31 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. household residents. Among all those who speak Spanish at home, more than one-half say they speak English “very well.”


1.6 million
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, up 31 percent from 1997. Their receipts were $226.5 billion, up 22 percent from 1997. A total of 199,725 such firms had paid employees, with receipts of $184 billion, or about $921,090 per firm.

About 40 percent of Hispanic-owned firms were in administrative support and waste management; health-care; and other services industries; with another 13 percent in construction.

Hispanic-owned firms claimed between 15 and 22 percent of businesses in New Mexico, Texas, Florida and California.

Among business owners in 2002 with paid employees, the percentage who were Hispanic. There were approximately 7.7 million owners of employer businesses in the United States.


The number of Hispanic physicians and surgeons [PDF]. Latinos are represented in a wide variety of occupations. For instance, there are about 50,400 Hispanic postsecondary teachers; 53,400 chief executives of businesses; 38,100 lawyers; and 5,000 news analysts, reporters and correspondents.

The percentage of Hispanics who work in managerial, professional and related occupations. Another approximately 24 percent work in service occupations, 22 percent in sales and office jobs, 15 percent in construction, extraction and maintenance jobs and 19 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations.

Hispanic veteran.Serving our Country

1.1 million
The number of Latino veterans of the U.S. armed forces. About 53,000 Hispanic-origin people were on active duty in 2003 in the United States.

The Latino Vote

7.6 million
The number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2004 presidential election, up from 5.9 million four years earlier. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting — about 47 percent — did not change.

Coming to America

Percentage of the foreign-born population from Latin America. This amounts to 18.3 million people.

10 million
The number of foreign-born people 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 countries of birth that contribute large numbers of Hispanics are El Salvador (937,000), Cuba (925,000), the Dominican Republic (688,000), Guatemala (590,000) and Colombia (500,000).

Income and Poverty

The real median income of Hispanic households in 2004, unchanged from the previous year.

The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2004, unchanged from 2003.


Hispanic student.18%
Percentage of the nation’s elementary and high school students who are Hispanic, triple the proportion in 1970, when the crest of the baby boom was enrolled at this level of school.

The percentage of Hispanics age 25 and older who had at least a high school education in 2004.

The percentage of the Hispanic population age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2004.

Proportion of college students in 2003 who were Hispanic, up from 4 percent two decades earlier.

2.7 million
The number of Hispanics age 18 and older who had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2004. This was about double the number only a decade earlier (1.3 million).

Number of Hispanics 25 years and older with advanced degrees in 2004 (e.g., master’s, professional, doctorate). is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.