August 9 2002

U.S. Latino Population Growth Extends Far Beyond Established Hubs,

Center Cities; Study Reveals New Geography of Latinos in America

WASHINGTON — A new study by the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy and the Pew Hispanic Center shows how the rapid growth of America’s Hispanic population has played out among the cities and suburbs of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. The study, “Latino Growth in Metropolitan America: Changing Patterns, New Locations,” co-authored by Roberto Suro of the Pew Hispanic Center and Audrey Singer of Brookings, confirms the wide distribution of Latino growth in the 1990s, but reveals deep variations in the rate and location of that growth among cities. The report also confirms that by 2000, the majority of Latinos live in the suburbs. The report’s key findings are:

— The Hispanic population is growing in most metropolitan areas, but the rate and location of increase varies widely. There are four distinct patterns of growth.

— Established Latino metros (16 total) such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago posted the largest absolute increases in Latinos between 1980 and 2000, on top of their already large base populations of Hispanics. These metros represent the Hispanic heartland in America.

— New Latino destinations (51 total) experienced an astonishing and rapid entrance of new Hispanics into their communities in recent years (despite their historically smaller Hispanic population bases). Metros like Atlanta and Orlando charted the fastest growth rates.

— Fast-growing Latino hubs (11 total) began with very large base populations and displayed extraordinary rates of Latino growth between 1980 and 2000. Metros like Houston, Phoenix, and San Diego saw their Latino population explode by an average of 235 percent over the two-decade period.

— Small Latino places (22 total) posted much lower absolute and relative growth in Hispanics. These included places like Detroit and Philadelphia.

— Fifty-four percent of all U.S. Latinos now reside in the suburbs. The Latino suburban population grew 71 percent in the 1990s. The 51 new Latino destinations saw the fastest growth of Latino suburbanites.

— Hispanic men outnumber Hispanic women by 17 percent in new Latino destination metros where the Latino population grew fastest. By contrast, in slower-growing metros with large and well-established Latino communities, more Hispanics live in family households and gender ratios are more balanced.

“Great change is occurring in many places that once had tiny Latino communities,” said Roberto Suro, Director of the Pew Hispanic Center. “These places are ripe for another decade or two of explosive growth.”

This study is a joint product of the Brookings Institution and the Pew Hispanic Center, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that aims to improve understanding of the diverse Hispanic population in the U.S. The full report can be found on the web at

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