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Latino Daily News

Monday March 14, 2011

Latinos Pivotal to Population Growth in Arizona for the Last Decade

Latinos were pivotal to the population growth in Arizona in the last decade, comprising nearly half (48%) of the overall increase in residents since 2000, according to a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund analysis of newly released Census 2010 data. 

Between 2000 and 2010, while the state’s overall population grew 25% from 5.1 million to 6.4 million, the Latino population grew from 1.3 million to 1.9 million, an increase of 46%.  Arizona is the second-fastest growing state in the nation, and gained one additional congressional seat as a result.  Latinos now represent 30% of the state’s residents and are the second-largest population group.

“There is no doubt that Latinos are a key part of our state’s growth.  These numbers show we will continue to play a larger and larger role in the state,” said NALEO Board Member Mayor Fernando Shipley of Globe, Arizona.  “As the state now undertakes the redistricting process, we have to be sure that these numbers become an opportunity for full and fair representation for the Latino community.”

The Census 2010 data also reveal that 43% of all Arizonans under 18 are Latino, and that the Arizona Latino population is significantly younger than the non-Latino population. 

In addition, figures show significant Latino populations in most of Arizona’s largest cities, including Phoenix (41%), Tucson (42%) and Glendale (35%).  Nearly all of Arizona’s Latinos (96%) live in the state’s ten largest counties, with 60% residing in Maricopa County alone.

However, the 2010 Census data fall below estimates of the population.  For instance, in the state’s most populous county, Maricopa—home of the capital city of Phoenix—the U.S. Census Bureau had estimated there would be 235,704 more residents than what the actual Census count shows.  The estimates also show that the state averaged a -4% difference in population. 

From our extensive work in overcoming barriers to full Census participation, the NALEO Educational Fund knows that fear and distrust of government are among the leading causes of not participating in the Census, and we are concerned the hostile environment in the state during last year’s enumeration may have contributed to a Census count significantly below the projections.  No other state has had such a difference between the 2010 population estimates and the 2010 Census count. 

“It is unfortunate that a climate of hostility toward Latinos could have played a part in our community not participating in the Census and therefore not being counted,” said former NALEO Educational Fund Board Member and Patagonia (AZ) School Board Member Cynthia Matus Morris.  “When we have people who are made to fear being counted, all residents of Arizona lose.”