Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Minority groups expand

Census Bureau finds Asian, Hispanic population exploding

August 30, 2000

Advertisement

— Those new hotels and casinos that sprouted up in Nevada's Clark County this past decade attracted more than just gamblers anxious to try their luck under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

The boom also brought an influx of Asians and Hispanics eager to fill new construction and service-industry jobs, a development that helped make Nevada, the Silver State, the fastest-growing state in the 1990s.

Nationally, the country's white population increased 7.3 percent between 1990 and 1999 to 224.6 million.

New Census Bureau estimates being released today show that increases in the nation's two fastest-growing minority populations are also helping to spark gains elsewhere.

Between July 1, 1990 and July 1, 1999, the nation's Asian and Pacific Islander population grew 43.0 percent to 10.8 million, and the Hispanic population grew 38.8 percent to 31.3 million, the Census estimates show. These are the last such estimates to be released before detailed Census 2000 results come out next year.

California, Texas and New York the three most populous states continue to have the highest numbers of minorities, but Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina experienced the biggest percent increases, Census analyst Larry Sink said.

"It's largely a condition of jobs and the network of people they know there," said John Haaga of the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based research group. "That's the traditional American experience."

Nationally, the country's white population increased 7.3 percent between 1990 and 1999 to 224.6 million. Blacks remained the country's largest minority group, experiencing a 13.8 percent spike during the same period to 34.8 million, while the American Indian and Alaska Native population increased 15.5 percent to 2.3 million.

"The white, black and American Indian populations for the most part just don't show that dramatic of a change," Sink said. Overall, the Hispanic and Asian growth is "largely being fueled by immigration."

Nevada's 50 percent population growth led all states during the 90s. Its Asian population rose 123.7 percent to 88,208, the largest such increase in the nation, while its Hispanic population rose 144.6 percent to 304,364. Hispanics can be of any race.

Unprecedented new hotel and casino construction in Clark County opened up more jobs during the decade, said Steven Kwon, a Las Vegas architect and founder of the area's Asian Chamber of Commerce. In that county alone, the Hispanic population rose 164.3 percent to 219,075, while its Asian population rose 139.3 percent to 64,636.

"In-migration into southern Nevada is dominated by people from Southern California," said Dr. Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "And Southern California has historically had a high portion of the Asian and Hispanic population."

California had the biggest Hispanic population with 10.4 million. Over 2.7 million Hispanics moved into the state between 1990 and 1999, a 35.8 percent increase.

Arkansas, meanwhile, had the biggest percentage growth among Hispanics, increasing 170.3 percent to 53,729 in the 90s.

Millie Johnson moved to Springdale, Ark., 13 years ago and is office manager at the Northwest Arkansas Multicultural Center there. Jobs available at the area's chicken and poultry plants drew in the new population, but the Hispanic influx still caught a lot of the area's longtime residents by surprise, she said.

"There has definitely been a dramatic difference," Johnson said.

On the county level, Sink at the Census said some of the most significant increases in Hispanic growth occurred in the metropolitan Atlanta area, including Gwinnett County, Ga., (up 215.6 percent in the 90s to 26,731) and Cobb County, Ga. (up 158.9 percent to 24,350).

Los Angeles County, meanwhile, had the biggest Hispanic population by county: 4.1 million, up 23.6 percent.

As for Asian population by state, California had the most, 4 million, up 36.8 percent in the 90s. New York was second with just over 1 million, up 44.5 percent.

By county, Los Angeles County also topped all the others in Asian population with 1.2 million, up 26.1 percent in the decade. Honolulu County, Hawaii, was next with 562,403, up 5.3 percent.

Besides Clark County, Nevada, Sink said other significant county-level increases in Asian population occurred in Fort Bend, Texas (up 127.6 percent to 33,048), as well as the two Georgia counties again: Gwinnett (up 180.7 percent to 28,793) and Cobb (up 135.7 percent to 18,758).

New jobs in construction, food processing and textile industries were the main attraction in Georgia, said Robert Giacomini, director of research for the state's data center.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.