Historically, immigrants have fueled the growth of the nation, and a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau pulled together some telling stats about the changing face of immigration in the United States. In some California counties, the data shows, the percentage of foreign-born residents is 2.5 times the national percentage.
Historical census stats
- The foreign-born population accounted for 10 percent of the total U.S. population in 1850, and 15 percent in 1890. Today, the foreign-born comprise 12 percent of the population.
- In 1910 most foreign-born residents spoke English, German, Italian, Yiddish, or Polish. By 1960, Spanish had replaced Yiddish as one of the most-often spoken languages. In 2007, 62 percent of individuals who spoke a non-English language at home spoke Spanish. American Community Survey estimates from 2010 show the county with the highest percentage of the population 5 and over that spoke Spanish at home was Starr, Texas, at 95.9 percent.
- Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of foreign-born U.S. residents of European descent decreased from 75 to 16 percent. At the same time, the percentage of foreign-born U.S. residents born in Latin America increased from 6 to 51 percent.
- According to the Current Population Survey, 23 percent of the nation’s population are either first or second generation residents: 12 percent of the population were born in another country and 11 percent were born in the United States and have at least one foreign-born parent.
California specific stats
A decade a ago, more than a quarter (25.9 percent) of California residents were born abroad and from 1960 to 2000, the state's foreign-born population increased from 1.3 million to 8.8 million, according a report by the Census Bureau [PDF].
The most recent estimates indicate that California has maintained a similar proportion of foreign-born residents (26.8 percent). The vast majority come from Asia (34.3 percent) and Latin America (55.1 percent).
In seven California counties 30 percent or more of the residents are foreign-born.
|County||Percentage of population born abroad|
|Santa Clara County||36|
|Los Angeles County||35.4|
|San Francisco County||34.4|
|San Mateo County||33.3|