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Virginia Hispanic Population Triples in 16 Years


Virginia’s Hispanic population tripled from 1990 to 2006, to more than 460,000 or 6 percent of the population, according to a study released Feb. 25 by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The study of Virginia’s Hispanics analyzes United States Census Bureau data to describe growth trends, characteristics and life in Virginia for resident Hispanics.

Qian Cai, director of the Cooper Center‚Äôs Demographics and Workforce section and author of the study, said the study shows that ‚ÄúVirginia‚Äôs Hispanic population is complex, varied and deeply engaged in significant sectors of the Virginia economy, and Hispanic presence in the overall population is likely to increase in future years. A thorough understanding of the population‚Äôs composition and characteristics provides a foundation for sound policy deliberations.‚ÄĚ

He said the study found that 60 percent of Hispanics in Virginia are U.S. citizens,  the majority U.S.-born, and 13 percent naturalized, and that ‚Äúadult Hispanic citizens surpass Virginians overall in both educational attainment and household income.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe remaining 40 percent of Virginia‚Äôs Hispanics are non-citizen immigrants,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThey are, in general, less educated, poorer and more likely to lack health insurance than the population overall.‚ÄĚ

Among adults age 25 and older, 35 percent of Hispanic citizens earn a college degree or more, compared to 33 percent of adult Virginians, and 15 percent of Hispanic immigrants.

Virginia’s median household income was $55,500 in 2006. The median for Hispanic citizens was $62,800. The figure for Hispanic immigrants, however, lagged behind both at $48,300.

Thirty percent of Virginia’s Hispanic residents are U.S. citizens under the age of 20, and among them, 45 percent have at least one U.S.-born parent, the study found.

While Census Bureau surveys ask respondents about their citizenship status, they do not ask non-citizens to clarify their immigration status. As a result, in this study the group called Hispanic immigrants includes authorized immigrants, such as permanent legal residents (green-card holders); those holding temporary visas for work, study or visiting; and refugees and those requesting asylum. This group also includes unauthorized immigrants, such as those who entered the country without inspection and those who were legally admitted but stayed beyond the date they were required to leave.

The Cooper Center study compares Virginia’s Hispanic citizens to Virginia’s Hispanic immigrants, and compares both groups to Virginia’s population overall.

Among other findings:

¬∑         Fairfax County in northern Virginia is home to more than 25 percent of the state‚Äôs Hispanic population, and most Hispanics are concentrated in three major metropolitan areas and a few selected rural areas.

¬∑         Three-quarters of Virginia‚Äôs Hispanic immigrants are in the prime working ages of 20 to 45.

¬∑         Hispanic immigrants participate in the labor force at a higher rate (80 percent) than the Virginia population overall (68 percent).

¬∑         Ninety-four percent of the Hispanic citizens speak English well.

¬∑         Sixty-nine percent of Hispanic immigrants do not speak English well or at all.

¬∑         Both Hispanic citizens and immigrants live in households larger than the typical Virginia household, because of higher fertility rates and cultural values, including living in extended families.

¬∑         Both Hispanic immigrants and citizens are less likely to have health insurance than Virginians overall.

Hispanic citizens and immigrants are overrepresented as recipients of WIC (Women, Infants and Children nutrition subsidy program), job training, rent subsidies and free and reduced-price school lunch, and underrepresented as recipients of public housing, food stamps and energy subsidies.

For more information, log on to or contact Qian Cai (pronounced ‚ÄúChien Tsai‚ÄĚ) at 434-982-5581 or [email protected].

Learning the Language


Hispanic Distribution in Virginia


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