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July 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved. 

50% Of All Puerto Ricans Do Not Count As "Hispanics"

The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that Hispanics are now the largest ethnic group in the United States, surpassing African Americans, who were so considered since post-Civil War days. In June of this year, delegates to the annual LULAC convention (League of Latin American Citizens) meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, heard Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon report that the Hispanic population grew 9.8 percent between Census Day, April 1, 2000, and July 1, 2002, increasing from 35.3 million to 38.8 million in the 27 month span.

He was wrong. A more accurate count for Hispanics in the United States at the time of the projection — using the Census Bureau’s own growth percentages — was in the order of 42.6 million persons.

The Census Bureau’s understatement results from the fact that it did not include in its U.S. Hispanic population projection the estimated 3,838,361 American citizens residing in Puerto Rico on July 1, 2002, of whom 3,792,300 -- or 98.8 percent -- self-identified as "Hispanic" or "Latino" on their Y-2000 census forms. According to Census Bureau spokesman Mark Tolbert, island population figures are not included in overall U.S. projections and, accordingly, not counted in the estimated national Hispanic population totals. Its official website suggests that information on Puerto Rico is available on its "International Data Base."

Tolbert told a reporter that "none of the demographic counts for territories are included in the national totals." Further, he provided the Herald with a statement of Bureau policy articulated before a committee of Congress in 1999. "The Census Bureau and other federal statistical agencies historically have defined the ‘United States total’ as the aggregate of the states and the District of Columbia. The Census Bureau would not normally deviate from historic practice … without prior and thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders, including other members of the statistical system."

In short, American citizens residing in Puerto Rico do not count! Their numbers do not relate to the overall population of the United States or to its Hispanic population projection.

Puerto Ricans living in one of the fifty states at the time of the Y-2000 census-taking were included in the "Hispanic" count. On April 1, 2000, their number was stated at 3,407,000. Using the Bureau’s 9.8% estimated growth rate for Hispanics generally, these mainland Puerto Ricans should have grown by some 333,000 by July 1, 2002, and another 142,000 over the past year, totaling some 3,882,000 persons identifying themselves as "Puerto Rican" living in the fifty states.

This mainland population is concentrated in eight states, with New York boasting more than twice the number of Puerto Ricans than its nearest competitor, Florida. The Puerto Rican population of New York numbers some 1.1 million and represents approximately 5.5% of the state’s total population, mostly concentrated in the New York City Metropolitan Area. Florida’s half million Puerto Ricans represent some 3% of its total population. Trailing behind these states in numbers of Puerto Rican residents are New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut and California. Connecticut’s roughly 200,000 Puerto Ricans represents some 5.7% of its total population, ranking it #1 in Puerto Rican residents as a percentage of its population total.

California, the nation’s most populous state, has the largest Hispanic population in the nation in numbers. Its 11 million Hispanics figure at approximately 33% of its total numbers, but its Puerto Rican population is insignificant at 150,000. Hispanic numbers in the State of Texas nearly match California as a percent of total population but its Puerto Rican numbers are less than half. Tiny New Mexico is the state with the highest percentage of persons identifying themselves as "Hispanic." Some 42% of its roughly 2 million inhabitants are Hispanic, but its number of Puerto Rican residents is a mere 5000 persons.

Of note in the Y-2000 Census was the dramatic growth of the Hispanic population outside of these "traditional" Hispanic states. In North Carolina, the Hispanic population grew by 400 percent, followed by Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Nevada, but the Puerto Rican population in these states continued to be insignificant. The same was true for Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and other Southwestern states that have a large percentage of Hispanics counted in their population base, but relatively few Puerto Ricans.

In his explanation of the dramatic increase in the U.S. Hispanic population since the Y-2000 Census, Kincannon told the LULAC delegates that, " Hispanics accounted for 3.5 million, or fully one-half, of the population increase of 6.9 million for the nation since April 1, 2000. Results show that about 53 percent of the recent growth among Hispanics can be attributed to net international migration, while natural increase -- the difference between births and deaths -- accounted for the remaining 47 percent."

Within the next several months, the Census Bureau will publish current population estimates for every state, county and place within the United States. According to Director Kincannon, "These numbers will paint an even more detailed picture of the growth of the Hispanic population. These numbers are a reflection of our diverse, changing nation; they are a reflection of the lives, hopes and opportunities of millions of people and thousands of communities throughout the United States."

But the reflection of 3,838,361 American Citizens on the island of Puerto Rico will not be seen in that mirror!

Do you think that the U.S. Census Bureau, from now on, should include population data from Puerto Rico as a part of the total count for the United States as a whole? Please vote above!

This Week's Question:
Do you think that the U.S. Census Bureau, from now on, should include population data from Puerto Rico as a part of the total count for the United States as a whole?

(US Mainland Residents, please vote on the left; PR Residents on right)

US . Residents
. PR
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