New Census Bureau Estimates Show McLennan County Hispanic Population Approaching 50,000

Aug. 7, 2008

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

The Hispanic population in McLennan County has grown by more than 10,000 persons - or 27 percent - since the 2000 Census, according to an analysis by sociologists and community specialists at Baylor University's Center for Community Research and Development (CCRD). This far exceeds the modest 2 percent growth of the non-Hispanic population locally over the same period, the researchers found.

As of July 1, 2007, persons of Hispanic origin in McLennan County were estimated at 48,583, accounting for 21 percent of the local population. These and other numbers were released today in Washington, D.C., as the Census Bureau announced its annual set of county population estimates by age, race and Hispanic origin. A PDF of the Census Bureau table showing the McLennan County Hispanic Population in 1990, 2000 and 2007 can be found under Related Links to the right.

Dr. Larry Lyon, sociologist and CCRD director, said the Hispanic population share has steadily increased since the 1990 Census. "Each decade, the Hispanic population is a larger and larger component of McLennan County's population," Lyon said.

However, even with the large increase since 2000, the numbers after 2000 do not show the same rate of growth that the county saw between 1990 and 2000. "A 27 percent rate of change since 2000 sounds like a lot, but the 1990-2000 change in the McLennan County Hispanic population was 62 percent," said Dr. Robyn Driskell, research director of the CCRD and a Baylor sociologist who specializes in demography.

Dr. Carson Mencken, sociologist and research professor at the CCRD, links the change in the rate of local Hispanic growth to the broader regional and national economy.

"If the slower rate of Hispanic population growth is tied to the economic downturn, it may be short-lived. As the economy rebounds, we may well see higher rates of Hispanic growth return," Mencken said.

It still remains to be seen whether this decade turns out to be one of slower Hispanic growth, said Dr. Charles Tolbert, professor and chair of the department of sociology at Baylor who analyzes Census data. The 2010 Census will provide the ultimate answer, he said.

"These estimates from the Census Bureau are important. They are the best that we can do until the tabulations from the 2010 Census are released. At that point, we will have three censuses for McLennan County that employ the same question on Hispanic origin," Tolbert said. "That data series is clearly going to tell a fascinating story."

For more information, contact the Center for Community Research and Development, (254) 710-3811 or e-mail Charlie_Tolbert@baylor.edu.

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