Nearly a year after the U.S. Census Bureau announced a surge in the Hispanic population, making it the largest minority group, a new analysis holds that the growth rate of the Latino population has actually seen a decrease in the later part of the decade.
The population growth analysis out of The Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program finds that the proportion of Latino growth has slowed significantly from 2007 on, as compared to the earlier half of the decade. The trend is seen in both metropolitan and suburban areas.
"It's kind of stopped on a dime," Senior Fellow William H. Frey, author of the report, told The Los Angeles Times. "The big turndown in growth is pervasive."
According to the report, which was released Tuesday, annual Hispanic growth rates in suburban areas "hovered between 4.5 and 5 percent during 2006-2007, then dropped steadily to 3.3 percent during 2009-2010." Likewise, in major cities, there was healthy growth in 2004-2005 and 2006-2007, but the percentage of growth dropped in the last three years.
In some cases the Hispanic growth rate declined so much so that it was less than half of the city's highest growth level during the decade. Las Vegas is one such city. It's growth rate fell from its peak -- 8 percent in 2005-2006 -- to 2.4 percent in 2009-2010.
This finding holds both economic and political implications. The slowdown of population growth and withdrawal of Latinos from smaller cities reduces the labor force, which could hurt future economic growth.
"Since both low- and high-skilled Hispanic workers will be important for future economic growth, it will be essential to find ways to restart their migration once the economy revives," Frey told the LA Times.
Changes in the Latino population could also affect voting districts, as well as the election of politicians who depend on a large Latino voting bloc.
But that's not to say that the Latino population has decreased. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
Last March, the Census Bureau announced that the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent during the last decade, rising from 35.3 million in 2000 to a whopping 50.5 million in 2010. This upturn accounted for more than one-half of overall population growth in the U.S. for the entire decade. According to Census data, the Latino population makes up more than 16 percent of the nation’s 308.7 million people.
Frey attributes the growth slowdown to a sharp drop in immigration and a departure of Latinos from smaller cities and suburbs to major settlement areas such as Los Angeles and New York. However, the economic downturn, which began in 2007, is also likely a factor.