STUDY: English Proficiency on the Rise Among Latinos

A record 33.2 million Hispanics in the U.S. speak English proficiently, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.1 In 2013, this group made up 68% of all Hispanics ages 5 and older, up from 59% in 2000.

At the same time that the share of Latinos who speak English proficiently is growing, the share that speaks Spanish at home has been declining over the last 13 years. In 2013, 73% of Latinos ages 5 and older said they speak Spanish at home, down from 78% who said the same in 2000. Despite this decline, a record 35.8 million Hispanics speak Spanish at home, a number that has continued to increase as the nation’s Hispanic population has grown.

These shifts coincide with the rise of U.S.-born Hispanics as a share of the nation’s Hispanic population, and the slowdown in immigration to the U.S. from Latin America. In 2013, U.S.-born Hispanics outnumbered foreign-born Hispanics by nearly two-to-one—35 million to 19 million—and made up a growing share (65%) of the nation’s Hispanic population. They are also much younger, with a median age of 19 years compared with 40 among immigrant Hispanics (Stepler and Brown, 2015). At the same time, immigration from Latin America, primarily Mexico, has slowed (Passel, Cohn and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012), leading to fewer Spanish-speaking new immigrant arrivals and a more settled U.S. Hispanic immigrant population.

As a result, since 2000, U.S. Hispanic population growth has been driven primarily by U.S. births rather than the arrival of new immigrants (Krogstad and Lopez, 2014).

 

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