Check out these cool maps. If you can get past the fact that they make the Latino population look like an agglomeration of ink blots, these maps give a fascinating picture of how the United States has changed over the last three decades. Each map has a “slider” to change the year from 1980 to 1990, 2000, and 2008. Move the slider and watch the map turn blue as the Latino population grows.
In 1980, only one U.S. county had more than a million Latinos: Los Angeles. But by 2008, as the first map shows, six counties in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Arizona had passed the one million mark. The biggest concentrations are in the big cities, especially LA, Houston, Miami, Chicago, and New York.
The second map shows Latinos as a share of the total population. Not too many surprises here: the western part of the country, especially a swath stretching from Southern California through Arizona, New Mexico, and South Texas, is the most heavily Latino. The top ten counties, where Latinos make up a whopping 86 to 97 percent of the population, all cling to the Texas-Mexico border.
The last map shows the growth of the Latino population, and this is where it gets interesting. Growth is shown for two periods, 1990–2000 and 2000–2008. The fastest-growing counties, ones where the Latino population increased by 90 percent or more, are colored dark blue. In this case, instead of giant blobs over the major cities, blue is sprinkled all over the map, showing dramatic changes in far-flung rural counties. Where did the Latino population increase fastest in 1990–2000? Franklin County, Alabama, by 2,193 percent. Who knew? Also Hamblen County, Tennessee; Gilmer County, Georgia; and Jasper County, South Carolina. Closer to home, five counties in Virginia were among the fastest-growing in 2000–2008: Frederick, Culpeper, Caroline, Fauquier, and Orange.
What draws Latinos to these rural and exurban places? Work, undoubtedly. It would be fascinating to know what kind, and what, if anything, these communities are able to offer to help their newcomers learn English and adjust to life in the United States. We are very lucky in DC to have the resources we have.