In all but one of Ohio’s 88 counties, population growth is being driven by people who identify as Hispanic.
In fact, in 67 of the counties — though not booming Franklin or Delaware — the Hispanic population has grown since 2010 while the number of non-Hispanic residents has declined, according to census data released today.
The new estimates that break down population changes by race and Hispanic origin show that Ohio gained an estimated 32,263 Hispanic residents between 2010 and last year. That’s an increase of about 9 percent. Meanwhile, there are about 7,000 fewer residents who say they’re not Hispanic in origin.
The Census Bureau defines Hispanics as those who identify as being Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban or are from other Hispanic, Latino or Spanish backgrounds. Hispanic origin is considered an ethnicity, not a race, and Hispanics can be of any race.
Meigs County in southern Ohio is the only county in which the Hispanic population declined. So, too, did the counts of the county’s non-Hispanic residents. But, as in other small, rural counties, the numbers are small to begin with, so even slight increases or decreases over a few years can register as noticeable changes.
Still, Hispanics now represent an estimated 3.4 percent of Ohio’s population, up from about 3.1 percent in 2010. The state in general has become more diverse. The same is true of the United States as a whole.
“The national trends are clear: The growth in Hispanics is growing faster than non-Hispanics because of births, not immigration,” said Reanne Frank, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University. She studies demographics and immigration.
The increase in the growth rate among Hispanics isn’t because of fertility. It’s because more U.S.-born Hispanics are reaching adulthood, Frank said, and are starting families.
“And nationally, Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group, and that’s due to immigration."
Delaware and Franklin counties are growing, period. They are first and second in the state for the fastest rates of growth, and Franklin comes in first among all Ohio counties for gaining the greatest number of total residents and Hispanic residents. But the gains in recent years come in large part from Hispanic residents and from those who identify as Asian.
In Delaware County, the Hispanic population grew an estimated 18.4 percent between 2010 and 2013, or by more than 1,300 people. Residents who say they are non-Hispanic Asians increased by about 22 percent. Whites grew at about 5 percent.
And unlike the rest of the nation, where younger Hispanic residents have fueled growth, in Franklin County, it’s the adult population. The greatest growth among Hispanic residents here is among those age 40 or older.
“The Hispanic growth rate is one that doesn’t make Ohio unique. It’s matching what’s happening nationwide,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center. “I think what’s happening is there are probably job opportunities, or something about family and internal migration.”
The Hispanic and Asian populations in Ohio are growing not only in counties with big cities, such as Franklin and Cuyahoga. They also are growing in small, rural counties, though on a smaller scale.
Pickaway County gained about 270 Hispanic residents. But that represented a 23 percent increase. Rural Madison County, which shrank slightly in overall population, has one of the highest rates of population growth among Asians. Between 2010 and last year, the county added 178 Asian residents, a gain of 37.2 percent.
“Part of it could just be a very small base (of Asian residents). In places like Madison County, the population is not nearly as diverse as the national average, but to the extent that we get above-average growth, it starts to close the gap a little bit,” said Bill LaFayette, owner of the analytical firm Regionomics. “You add a dozen (people) to that, you’ve got a pretty good growth rate.”
In some small counties, a nearby college or a business that makes new hires could drive increases in diversity, Frank said.
By Jennifer Smith Richards - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
Dispatch library director Julie Fulton contributed to this story.
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services