The Hispanic population of the United States is growing by leaps and bounds, outpacing other ethnic groups and the population at large, according to the latest data from the American Community Survey, which is administered alongside the decennial Census.
According to ACS estimates, there are now more than 45.4 million Hispanics living in the U.S., representing 14.6% of the total population of 308 million. That's twice the number living in the U.S. two decades ago. If current trends continue, the number of U.S. Hispanics will triple to roughly 130 million by 2050, when they will make up one-third of the total population.
The current proportion of 14.6% compares with approximately 41.7 million African-Americans, who make up 13.5% of the total. Hispanics passed African-Americans as the largest ethnic minority earlier this decade.
The single largest Hispanic sub-group consists of immigrants and U.S.-born individuals of Mexican descent, numbered at 29.3 million in 2010, followed by Puerto Ricans, with 4.1 million, and Cubans with 1.5 million. Altogether, Hispanics from Central American countries number 3.6 million, including 1.5 million from El Salvador.
Once concentrated almost exclusively in the Southwest, Hispanics are increasingly distributed across the country, including rapidly growing populations in unexpected places, like North Carolina and Georgia. Not coincidentally, states with a high proportion of Hispanic residents also tend to have the fastest-growing populations overall, including Texas, Florida and Arizona.
Foreign-born Hispanics make up the single-largest immigrant group -- roughly 20 million out of a total 38 million foreign-born individuals residing in the U.S. But the majority (25.4 million) were born in the U.S.
A recent survey by Miami-based opinion research firm Bendixen and Amandi found that 89% of foreign-born Hispanics speak both English and Spanish, while 59% of U.S.-born Hispanics are also bilingual.
Hispanics are also advancing economically: In 2007 the median household income of Hispanic families was $40,566, up from $34,442 in 2000. Hispanic buying power has been estimated at $1 trillion this year, rising to $1.5 trillion by 2015.