Monday, March 28, 2011

SPRINGFIELD - Last week the U.S. Census Bureau numbers revealed Hispanics make up 10 percent of the state's total population and had grown to 15 percent of Western Massachusetts population.

"All you have to do is walk down the streets of the city to see that Latinos make up a large portion of our population," said Springfield City Councilor and candidate for mayor Jose F. Tosado.

The 2010 data regarding Hispanic residents was released March 22 and revealed Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee have seen a significant rise in their Hispanic populations since the last count in 2000. The terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably in the United States for people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries. The term Hispanic used throughout the article refers to people of any race who self-identify as Hispanic and are primarily of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American origin.

A study of the new data conducted by the Pew Hispanic Research Center, a national research organization that chronicles Hispanics' growing impact on the nation, shows there are 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, making up 16.3 percent of the total population. The nation's Hispanic population, which was 35.3 million in 2000, grew 43 percent over the decade. The Hispanic population also accounted for most of the nation's growth, at 56 percent.

D'Vera Cohn, senior writer for the Pew Research Center, said Massachusetts is one of only six states in the country to attribute all of its growth to the Hispanic population.

"In these six states, which include Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, growth in the Hispanic population accounted for all of those states' population growth. Basically, if the Hispanic population had not grown, those states would not have grown," she said.

Cohn said another interesting finding is that growth was led by American-born Hispanics, not immigrants.

"Research has indicated that most of the growth in the Hispanic population across the nation was due to birth, not immigration," she said. "While immigration is still a substantial force for increasing the population, this time around it has been surpassed by Hispanics born in the country."

Massachusetts population grew from 6,349,097 in 2000 to 6,547,629 in 2010, an increase of 3.1 percent. In Springfield, Hispanic residents helped keep the city's population above 150,000, a cut-off point for a number of federal grants and other aid.

The population of Hispanics in Springfield increased to 59,541, or almost 39 percent of the city's population. That's up from 41,343 in 2000, when Hispanics constituted 27.2 percent of the city's population.


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