Rise in the Spanish-Speaking Population—Decline in Spanish-Speakers at Home

Recent studies show that although Hispanic and Latinos make up the largest ethnic minority in America— a 17.8% of the total U.S. population, there’s been a significant decline in the percentage of Hispanics speaking Spanish at home.

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According to the PEW research center analysis of Census Bureau data, the Latino population has had a growth spurt of over 6 million people since 2006 but the amount of Latinos who spoke Spanish at home in 2015 declined from 78% in 2006 to 73%. The national decline remained pretty consistent all throughout the top 25 major U.S. cities, the smallest declines were seen in Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro areas, where the share of Latinos who spoke Spanish at home declined by about 2 percent between 2006 and 2015. 

Major cities like New York-Newark-Jersey City, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach alone made up over 10 million of the Spanish-speaking population and a 10% point change in the decline of Hispanics speaking Spanish at home. According to the Research Center study, “about half of all Latinos who spoke Spanish at home in 2015 lived in the 10 metro areas with the largest populations of Spanish-speaking Latinos. These metro areas accounted for about 18.5 million Latino Spanish speakers. (Just three states – California, Texas, and Florida – included 57% of Spanish-speaking Latinos in the U.S.)” 

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A 2015 survey found that even though when identifying themselves most Hispanics (51%) prefer to default to their family’s country of origin instead of pan-ethnic terms, and most (75%) do want future U.S. Hispanic generations to speak Spanish, still many Latinos (71%) said it wasn’t necessary to speak Spanish to be considered Latino.