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Census data show Hispanic boom. How it could impact US politics.

The US Hispanic population grew 43 percent during the past decade to 50.5 million – more than half the country's population growth. The demographic trend could impact elections.

By Staff writer / March 24, 2011

US Census Bureau Director Robert Groves explains the final 2010 census population totals in Washington on Thursday, March 24, 2011. Over the past decade, the number of Hispanics grew at a much faster rate than the rest of the US population.

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White Americans are still the majority in the United States, but they’re rapidly being overtaken by Hispanics, according to the latest Census Bureau report, and this could have important political ramifications.

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During the past decade, the Hispanic population in the United States grew 43 times faster than the non-Hispanic white population, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. Put another way, between 2000 and 2010 the US Hispanic population grew 43 percent from 35.3 million to 50.5 million. Its share of the total population rose from 13 to 16 percent. That accounts for more than half the total US population growth since 2000.

At the same time, Census Bureau officials reported, the non-Hispanic white population grew by barely more than 1 percent, dropping as a portion of the total from 69 percent to 64 percent.

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The main reasons? Birth rate and immigration – legal and illegal.

"This is a population that's young, whose growth is driven increasingly by births and not immigration," D'Vera Cohn of the Pew Research Center told the Reuters news agency. “It's a population that's expanding into virtually every county of the country, and growing especially sharply in states where Latinos had not been a presence a decade or so ago.”

Charting the population trends

While the number of Hispanics continued to grow in the Southwest, Florida, and several other parts of the country where their numbers have been traditionally high, they’re growing rapidly elsewhere as well – particularly in the South, including North Carolina and Alabama.

“The states with the largest percent growth in their Hispanic populations include nine where the Latino population more than doubled, including a swath in the southeast United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina. The Hispanic population also more than doubled in Maryland and South Dakota,” reports the Pew Hispanic Center in an analysis of the Census Bureau report Thursday.

“In six states, growth in the Hispanic population accounted for all of those states’ population growth; if the Hispanic population had not grown, those states would not have grown,” adds Pew. “They included Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. In Michigan, the state population declined over the decade but the Hispanic population grew.”

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