04/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago's Latino Landscape 2008: A Statistical Portrait of Chi-Town Hispanics

On Monday the Chicago Community Trust published The Latino Landscape: A Metro-Chicago Guide and Non-profit Directory and put a copy into my greedy little hands.

You've noticed my very specific Hispanic data-tweets on Twitter? Totally ripped off from my Chicago-centric guide to all things Latin-American-ish in our region.

The Chicago Community Trust (and I) thank the Center for Metropolitan Chicago Initiatives of the Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame and the CCT's members of the community advisory board who brought this incredible collection of factoids, history, and community resources to life.

I'm pulling out only the juiciest bits and numbers because I'm a sucker for statistics. The cheeky headings are mine but all the information was taken from official government sources and tabulated by people waaaay smarter than me. You can check it all out - complete with cool charts - in your very own PDF copy, just make it to the bottom of this omni-Hispanic-bus column for the link.

Some definitions from The Pew Hispanic Center:

First Generation: Latinos born outside the United States or on the island of Puerto Rico.
Generation One and a Half: First-generation Latinos who arrived in the United States at or before the age of 10.6

Second Generation: Latinos born in the United States to immigrant parents.

Third Generation or higher: Latinos born in the United States to US-born parents.


In theory, the terms 'Hispanic' and 'Latino' are used interchangeably. They refer to a collective ethnic and political identity that is unique to living in the United States. In reality, though, it is a complex matter of preference.

The term 'Hispanic' was coined in the 1970s by the US government. Although mainly applied to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, the government continues to use it to refer to Spaniards and Portuguese-speaking Brazilians.

The term 'Latino' is considered to have a community-based origin and has a weaker connotation to Spanish colonial history and a greater emphasis on Latin America. For this reason, many people prefer 'Latino'.

According to an unpublished 2003 study in the Chicago area by the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, those who prefer the term 'Hispanic' are more likely to be college educated, somewhat older (36-60 years old), very interested in politics, and members of nontraditional religions.

Those who prefer 'Latino' are generally younger (26-35 years old).


In terms of identity, a 2002 Pew Hispanic Center survey found that first-generation Latinos are more likely to select their country of origin when asked to describe themselves (68 percent) than second generation Latinos.

The latter also use their parents' countries of origin to describe themselves, but 35 percent prefer the term 'American'. An equal number of both generations (25 percent), however, use the term 'Latino/Hispanic' to express identity.


In 2006 Latinos accounted for 20 percent of the region's population, making them the largest ethnic group in metropolitan Chicago. Whites accounted for 55 percent of the population, while African Americans made up 18 percent and Asians represented 6 percent.

Hispanic or Latino 1,722,843 100.00%
Mexican 1,357,353 78.79%
Puerto Rican 153,206 8.89%
Guatemalan 30,332 1.76%
Cuban 18,875 1.10%
Ecuadoran 18,796 1.09%
Colombian 16,482 0.96%
Peruvian 10,796 0.63%
Salvadoran 8,431 0.49%
Honduran 7,927 0.46%
Dominican 4,186 0.24%
Venezuelan 4,090 0.24%
Argentine 3,702 0.21%
Costa Rican 2,064 0.12%
Bolivian 1,901 0.11%
Nicaraguan 1,519 0.09%
Panamanian 1,502 0.09%
Chilean 906 0.05%
Uruguayan 588 0.03%
Paraguayan 392 0.02%
Other Central American 3,139 0.18%
Other South American 1,417 0.08%
Other Hispanic/ Latino 975,239 4.37%

Source: US Census Bureau, 2006, American Community Survey, analyzed by the Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame.

THEY WERE "BOOOOOORN IN THE U-S-A!"Eighty-nine percent of Latinos under the age of 18 were born in the United States compared to 37 percent of Latinos over the age of 18.


Nearly 69 percent of Latinos in the Region are US Citizens: 55.5 percent are US-born and 12.8 percent are naturalized.

Any estimate of the undocumented population is inconclusive given the unofficial nature of their arrival. However, a 2005 report estimated that at least 200,000 foreign-born Latino residents in the six-county area of metro Chicago were undocumented.

(The 31.2 percent of Latinos in metro Chicago who are not citizens of the United States includes legal permanent residents and those who are legally authorized to live and work in the country, as well as those without authorization.)

'HOODS:Eighty-one percent of metro Chicago Latinos lived in the following 25 places in 2000. Information has been updated for 2006 with US Census data, where available. I ordered them by percentage of population:

Cicero 66,299 77.4% 66,389 82.0%
Melrose Park 12,485 53.9% N/A N/A
West Chicago 11,405 48.6% N/A N/A
Waukegan 39,396 44.8% 49,689 56.2%
Carpentersville 12,410 40.6% N/A N/A
Franklin Park 7,399 38.1% N/A N/A
Berwyn 20,543 38.0% N/A N/A
Blue Island 8,899 37.9% N/A N/A
Bensenville 7,690 37.1% N/A N/A
Elgin 32,430 34.3% 40,243 40.5%
Aurora 46,557 32.6% 73,252 40.1%
Round Lake Beach 8,084 31.3% N/A N/A
Addison 10,198 28.4% N/A N/A
Hanover Park 10,233 26.7% N/A N/A
Chicago 753,644 26.0% 774,042 28.2%
Mundelein 7,487 24.2% N/A N/A
Chicago Heights 7,790 23.8% N/A N/A
Wheeling 7,135 20.7% N/A N/A
Joliet 19,552 18.4% 39,226 27.2%
North Chicago 6,552 18.2% N/A N/A
Streamwood 6,108 16.8% N/A N/A
Palatine 9,247 14.1% 9,698 14.8%
Des Plaines 8,299 14.0% N/A N/A
Bolingbrook 7,371 13.1% N/A N/A
Mount Prospect 6,620 11.8% N/A N/A

LADIES AND GENTS:There are more men among Latinos in the region (53 percent) than among whites (49 percent) or blacks (46 percent).

Forty-seven percent of Latinos are women, compared to 51 percent of whites and 54 percent of blacks.

Female-Headed Households: In the metropolitan Chicago area women are at the head of 16.1 percent of Latino households compared to 42.9 percent of black households and 8.6 percent of white households.

Same-Sex Households: Among same sex households in 2006, 3,162 were Latino in Metropolitan Chicago compared to 2,359 black and 14,368 white.

Same-Sex Households in Metropolitan Chicago by Race/Ethnicity, 2006:

White Black Latino Total
Male householders 7,557 1,279 2,264 11,100
Female householders 6,811 1,080 898 8,789
Total 14,368 2,359 3,162 19,889

Source: Data are from the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes 9 Counties: Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will.According to the

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 59 percent of Latino female same-sex couples and 45 percent of Latino male same-sex couples were raising at least one child under the age of 18 in metro Chicago in the year 2000.

"YOU DON'T LOOK A DAY OVER 20!"US-born Latinos are the youngest in the region with nearly 57 percent of them under the age of 18 compared to nearly 22 percent of whites and 30 percent of blacks in the same age group.

At 53 percent, foreign-born Latinos are disproportionately represented in the 24-44 age
group, when compared to whites (27 percent) and blacks (27 percent).

READIN' 'RITIN' n 'RITHMETICOnly 24 percent of US-born Latinos have graduated from college or higher as compared to nearly 55 percent of whites and nearly 28 percent of blacks in the region.

Fifty-five percent of foreign-born Latinos have less than a high school diploma compared to nearly 29 percent of US-born Latinos, 22 percent of blacks, and only about 9 percent of whites.

"WAIT, WHATCHOO SAY?"The Census Bureau defines English fluency as people in a household over the age of 5 who speak English well or very well.
Nearly 59 percent of all Latinos in the region speak English well or very well and almost 15 percent speak only English.

Nearly 12 percent of Mexicans speak only English compared to nearly 28 percent of Puerto Ricans and nearly 25 percent of Other Latinos.

Nearly 30 percent of Latino households in the region are "Linguistically Isolated" according to the US Census. That is to say, no one in the household over the age of 14 speaks English very well.

English usage increases over generations, and although Spanish use decreases, it does not
disappear. Nationally, first-generation Latinos (foreign born) are Spanish-language Dominant.
Second-generation Latinos (US born) are comfortable in both languages but are more likely to speak English at home and at work.

By the third generation and beyond, more than half (52 percent) say they speak Spanish at least pretty well.

"SHOW ME THE MONEY"Seventy-one percent of Latinos in the region are currently working or looking for work, compared to 69 percent of whites and 61 percent of blacks.
Retirees, homemakers, and those who are incarcerated are examples of individuals not in the labor force.

Fifty-two percent of Latinos in the labor force worked in the following four occupations in the region in 2006:
• Production
• Office & Administrative Support
• Transportation
• Sales

Median Household Income among Latinos in Metro Chicago, 2006:

Total Latino $49,303
Panamanian $132,817
Costa Rican $90,557
Honduran $87,237
Paraguayan $84,168
Argentine $76,018
Colombian $72,848
Cuban $67,817
Ecuadoran $67,817
Dominican $66,207
Venezuelan $59,365
Puerto Rican $48,297
Peruvian $47,694
Mexican $47,291
Salvadoran $46,889
Guatemalan $45,580
Nicaraguan $42,260
Chilean $36,545
Bolivian $30,186
Uruguayan $25,960
Source: US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2006.


Home Ownership:

In the region 60 percent of Latinos own and occupy their homes compared to 84 percent of whites and close to 47 percent of blacks.

It is still unknown what impact the national foreclosure crisis will have on Latino home ownership.

However, according to a recent report by the Latino Policy Forum in the
Chicago region, Latinos were 1.5 times more likely to receive high cost loans than whites.


Seventeen percent of all Latinos were at or below the poverty level in 2006, compared to nearly 27 percent of blacks and 5 percent of whites.

As defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation, the poverty threshold for a family of four in 2006 was $20,614; for a family of three, $16,079; for a family of two,$13,167; and for unrelated individuals, $10,294.15

According to a point-in-time count and survey by the City of Chicago, in January 2007 there were 5,922 homeless individuals.

Six percent were Latino, 75 percent black, and 16 percent white.

Latinos tend to be under-represented in counts of homeless people on the street or in shelters, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, because Latino families often live in overcrowded conditions before resorting to the shelter system.


According to the US Department of Justice, there were 415 Latino inmates in Illinois State prisons and local jails per 100,000 residents in 2005, compared to 223 whites and 2,020 blacks.

In Illinois, while blacks represent almost five times the inmate population of Latinos, that proportion climbs to nine times the number when compared to whites. While the incarceration rate for whites in Illinois is almost half the incarceration rate for Latinos, Latinos in Illinois are as likely to be incarcerated as whites are in the whole country.

Number of Inmates in State Prisons and Local Jails per 100,000 Residents by Race/Ethnicity, June 30, 2005:
White Black Latino
Illinois 223 2,020 415
Midwest 351 2,278 450
Source: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005."


Voter Turnout in November 2004 and 2006: Fifty-nine percent of Latinos were eligible to vote in November 2006, compared to 97 percent of whites and 99 percent of blacks.

More than 40 percent of Latinos over the age of 18 are not eligible to vote because they are not US citizens.

Of those eligible to vote, 58 percent of Latinos were registered compared to 76 percent of whites and 74 percent of blacks.

Of those eligible to vote, 86 percent of those registered exercised their right and cast a ballot in 2006 compared to 93 percent of blacks and 89 percent of whites.

Similar to other groups, about one-fourth of the total Latino population over the age of 18 are not registered to vote.

Given the large number of the population not eligible to vote, only about 30 percent of all Latinos over the age of 18 voted in 2006.


Physical Disabilities:

The table below shows the percentage of individuals who reported difficulty of vision or hearing, limited mobility, or a limitation with regard to personal care among Latinos, whites, and blacks in the region in 2006.

Physical Disability by Race/Ethnicity in the Region, 2006
White Black Latino
Limited mobility 5.5% 8.1% 3.0%
Personal care limitation 3.0% 4.9% 1.4%
Vision or hearing difficulty 3.5% 4.1% 2.3%
Source: US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2006.

Health Insurance:
According to a 2008 report issued by the Gilead Outreach & Referral Center, 26 percent of Latinos in the Chicago metro area17 were uninsured, compared to 21 percent of blacks and 7 percent of whites.
The report also states that 15 percent of Latinos who are US citizens are uninsured compared to 50 percent of Latinos who are not US citizens.

Analysis of 2006 American Community Survey data by the Institute for Latino Studies revealed that in the Chicago region between 7 and 37 percent of whites are at risk of being underinsured. For blacks the range was between 4 and 49 percent and for Latinos the range was between 4 and 29 percent.

Although Latinos are more likely to be uninsured, they are less likely to be underinsured.
Nationally, 16 percent of whites are underinsured compared to 17 percent of blacks and 6 percent of Latinos.

Health Status:
Responding to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2007, 86 percent of whites in the State of Illinois said their health was "Good" or "Excellent" compared to 76 percent of blacks and 70 percent of Latinos.

Infant Mortality:
According to the Illinois Department of Health, in the six-county region, blacks had the highest infant mortality rate in 2005 at 15.5 per thousand live births.

Latinos and whites were similar at 5.7 and 5.2, respectively.

Among children 19-35 months of age in the State of Illinois, it is estimated that 74 percent of whites had been vaccinated23 compared to 78 percent of Latinos. Data for black children were unavailable.

Substance Abuse:
Of the 45,327 individuals admitted to substance abuse treatment programs in the State of Illinois in 2007, 49 percent were white, 45 percent were black and 4 percent were Latino.

According to the same CDC report, 21 percent of white adults in the state identified themselves as current smokers compared to 23 percent of black adults and 15 percent of Latino adults.

Whew - you made it!

And if you want four-color charts and graphs, short profiles of each Latin American country's history in Chicago, in-depth profiles of the top Latino populated suburbs, and a full directory of community organizations serving Hispanics, get your very own PDF copy of the Chicago Community Trust's The Latino Landscape: A Metro-Chicago Guide and Non-profit Directory here. Be sure to look under "News," it's the second link down.