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Latinization Of The US, Some Of The Patterns May Surprise You

Latinization Of The U.S. Has Spread Into Some Unexpected Regions

By Rafael A. Olmeda

August 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Four Florida metropolitan areas experienced a Hispanic population growth of more than 300 percent in the past 20 years, but none of them came close to the growth rate in Raleigh, N.C.

Figures from the most recent census show that the Hispanic population in the Raleigh-Durham area increased from 5,670 in 1980 to 72,580 in 2000, a growth rate of 1,180 percent. The "hypergrowth" in Raleigh puts the area at the top of a list of "new Latino destinations," according to a study released this week by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Nashville and Portland, Ore., experienced "hypergrowth" rates of more than 300 percent, according to the report, "Latino Growth in Metropolitan America: Changing Patterns, New Locations."

Many of the cities on the list are not typically associated with Hispanic communities and issues, but they will if current patterns hold up, said Roberto Suro, director of the Washington D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center.

The report documents the growth of the Hispanic population across the country, putting census information in a national context.

In Florida, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Sarasota saw their Hispanic communities grow between 397 percent and 859 percent in the last 20 years.

The report separated growth patterns into four categories: new Latino destinations, fast-growing hubs, established Latino metros and small Latino places.

New Latino destinations are where small Hispanic population bases are increasing the fastest. Areas with larger bases that also experienced significant growth, including Phoenix, San Diego and Houston, are referred to as "fast-growing Latino hubs" in the report.

"Those cities are where the Latino population is going to play an increasingly important, even dominant role," Suro said.

In both the fast-growing hubs and the new destinations, public officials, business leaders and non-profit groups are likely to face social service and economic challenges, as well as opportunities.

In the case of Raleigh-Durham, lack of preparation for the rapidly changing demographics put North Carolina in the uncomfortable position of being unable to provide services for people with limited proficiency in English.

Jalil Isa, Hispanic affairs spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said the state had recognized the problem and was addressing it.

"We don't want to find ourselves in violation of federal law" that requires health organizations that receive federal funding to provide equal access to services, he said.

Latinos began arriving in Raleigh in significant numbers in the 1970s, largely as transients and migrant workers, Isa said. In the past 20 years they have established markets, credit unions and church congregations. "Now most here call this their home year-round," he said.

The Orlando area's Hispanic community began to grow fast in the 1980s with the influx of Puerto Ricans both from the island and elsewhere in the United States. Many Central Florida counties are struggling to provide services to Hispanics in schools, city halls and county health offices, among others.

With Miami-Dade County immediately to the south, Broward County has long anticipated a growth in the Hispanic population, said Richard Ogburn, chief planner for the South Florida Regional Planning Council.

"Since we know that this is happening, we have to think of the needs of this community," Ogburn said. "What do school districts need to do? How are the health needs different? Are there certain diseases that are more prevalent?"

The unemployment figures for Hispanics also have increased since the census was taken, said Suro, providing another challenge for the new Latino destinations and fast-growing hubs.

The other two categories outlined in the report are at opposite ends of the statistical spectrum: big cities with established Hispanic centers and small cities where, even though Latino community may have doubled in size, it still accounts for a small fraction of the population.

"Big, established Latino metropolitan centers saw relatively slow growth rates," said Suro, But "relatively" was a key word, he said. Since 1980, Miami's increase was 123 percent (up by 712,000), the Los Angeles area was 105 percent (up by 2,177,000) and New York's was 60 percent (up by 874,000).


Hispanic Growth: Some Of The Patterns May Surprise You

August 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 DALLAS MORNING NEWS. All rights reserved.

Thanks to the 2000 census, Americans already knew that Hispanics are poised to become the nation's largest minority. Last week, a pair of think tanks provided a valuable snapshot on how the population's growth has been dispersed across the fruited plain. And some of the findings may surprise you.

A joint research study by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy reports that the Hispanic population has spread across the United States faster and more completely than many researchers imagined.

The study finds that while metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas still account for the largest increases of Hispanics in sheer numbers, the fastest and more dramatic rates of growth are found in mid-sized cities like Las Vegas and Portland, Ore. For instance, the Hispanic population of Dallas grew by 324 percent from 1980 to 2000. That is more than the 211 percent increase in the Hispanic population of Houston, or the 261 percent boost in Phoenix. But it pales in comparison to what the study calls "hypergrowth" destinations like Nashville, which clocks in with Hispanic growth of 630 percent, or Raleigh, N.C., which led the nation with a whopping 1,180 percent growth in its Hispanic population over the last 20 years.

The changing face of America is now evident not just in big cities, but also in small towns and suburbs. Fifty-four percent of Hispanics now reside in the suburbs. That means that those who live in America's suburbs, including those in North Texas, no longer can afford to think of immigrant waves as an urban phenomenon. Suburban hospitals, schools, police and other service providers need to brace themselves for the many challenges that come from serving an immigrant-heavy population. If they have not encountered those challenges yet, they soon will.

The same goes for the nation as a whole. The Hispanic population remains a vibrant and highly productive element of our society. But the levels of growth in recent years have been so sudden, and so extreme, that it would be understandable if many Americans have been caught off-guard. All the more reason that studies like this are important. After all, it is a lot easier to plan the road ahead if you have a map of where you are.

  night," he said. However, "if the right one doesn't come along at the right price, we're not going to chase it."

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