Hispanics born in the United States are driving the growth of the Latino population, a reversal from the longtime trend of immigration being its engine.
Since 2000, the U.S.-born Latino population has grown faster than its foreign-born component, which has stalled since 2010, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
Just short of 50 percent of Hispanic adults in 2012 were foreign-born, down from 55 percent in 2007. Between 2000 and 2010, 9.6 million Latinos were born in the United States, compared to the 6.5 million Latinos who emigrated here. In that period, U.S. births made up 60 percent of the Latino population growth, the study said.
The study attributed the change to several factors, among them a decline in Mexicans coming to the United States, people leaving the United States because of a weaker economy and, by extension, fewer job opportunities, and tighter border security.
Regardless of the changes within Latino growth, it will likely to continue, the study said. The Latino population has grown six-fold since 1970, from 9.1 million to 53 million by 2012. That is larger than populations of many entire Latin American countries.
The change has occurred as the number of Latinos turning into adults is growing. The study noted that about 800,000 U.S.-born Latinos are entering adulthood each year. That number is expected to rise to 1 million annually.
"That's really a reflection of this wave of U.S.-born young people entering adulthood and having an impact demographically on everything from … the labor market, colleges and universities and impacting a whole host of other institutions that are part of adulthood," said Mark Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the center and a co-author of the report, according to USA Today.
The study also showed that the states with the largest Latino populations are: California, with 14.5 million, Texas, with 10 million, Florida, with 4.5 million, New York, with 3.6 million, and Illinois, with 2.1 million.
The five states with the fastest-growing Latino populations are Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota.