Hispanic Population Continues to Grow

Hispanic Population Continues to Grow

MONTGOMERY, Ala.

Alabama’s Hispanic population continues to grow at a fast rate, according to the latest U.S. Census figures, but the actual growth may be larger than the numbers suggest.

Overall, the South’s Hispanic population has tallied the fastest growth rate of any region in the country.

In Alabama, the Hispanic population grew from 24,629 in 1990 to 75,830 in 2000. Census estimates show a 2004 Hispanic population of 98,388.

The increase is greater than the population growth for Black or White Alabama citizens, but a University of Alabama at Birmingham professor says the number of Hispanic residents may be much larger.

“A large percentage of the Hispanic immigrants in Alabama are undocumented,” said Isabel Scarinci, a professor with UAB’s Division of Preventive Medicine. Part of her job is to research methods for preventing cancer among minority women, including Hispanics.

“We have about 70,000 Latinos in the Birmingham area,” Scarinci told The Birmingham News. “But if you look at the census, 16,598.”

With a population of slightly fewer than 100,000, Hispanics make up 2.2 percent of Alabama’s total population of 4,530,182, according to census estimates for 2004. The growth has caused some cities to struggle with how to deal with changing demographics.

The Hoover City Council voted this month to close the Multicultural Resource Center, which provides services to Hispanics and other immigrants, citing a problem with crowds of day laborers who gathered there to find work.

Some residents at the meeting said illegal immigrants are a drain on the economy, while others called for compassion.

Demographer William Frey of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan extrapolated the 1990-2000 census data and found that Alabama had more than a two fold increase in its Hispanic population. In fact, six of the top seven states on the growth list were from the South, according to Frey’s figures.

As for other population data, Frey found Alabama’s Black population has grown 1 percent since 1990 to 1,187,371. He ranks the 26.2 percent Black population growth as the seventh-largest among U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For the same period, Alabama’s White population grew by a half percentage point to 3,147,620.

Annette Watters, director of the Alabama Data Center at the University of Alabama, said the higher growth rates for Blacks and Hispanics are due to higher birth rates for both groups.

Watters said the Census Bureau is trying to determine the number of undocumented Hispanics, which has been estimated at 11 million nationally.

— Associated Press



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