A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies examines Census data and has determined that one out of every five U.S. residents doesn't speak English in their home. The number of non-English speakers at home in the United States is up 50% since 1990 when federal immigration policy dramatically increased the number of green cards given to foreign citizens every year.
The new data show that the number of people who speak a language other than English reached an all-time high of 61.8 million, up 2.2 million since 2010. The largest increases from 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. One in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home.
The number of non-English speakers at home correlates with high levels of legal immigration. In 1990, when the percentage of non-English speakers at home was just 14%, the federal government began issuing more than 1 million green cards per year for the first time since the start of World War I. Between 1915 and 1988, the government issued just 300,000 green cards per year, but since 1989, the average has exceeded 1.01 million.
Among the findings:
- In 2013, a record 61.8 million U.S. residents (native-born, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants) spoke a language other than English at home.
- The number of foreign-language speakers increased 2.2 million between 2010 and 2013. It has grown by nearly 15 million (32 percent) since 2000 and by almost 30 million since 1990 (94 percent).
- The largest increases 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish (up 1.4 million, 4 percent growth), Chinese (up 220,000, 8 percent growth), Arabic (up 188,000, 22 percent growth), and Urdu (up 50,000, 13 percent growth). Urdu is the national language of Pakistan.
- Languages with more than a million speakers in 2013 were Spanish (38.4 million), Chinese (three million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), and Korean and Arabic (1.1 million each). Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines.
- The percentage of the U.S. population speaking a language other than English at home was 21 percent in 2013, a slight increase over 2010. In 2000, the share was 18 percent; in 1990 it was 14 percent; it was 11 percent in 1980.
- Of the school-age (5 to 17) nationally, more than one in five speaks a foreign language at home. It is 44 percent in California and roughly one in three students in Texas, Nevada, and New York. But more surprisingly, it is now one in seven students in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Nebraska and Delaware; and one out of eight students in Kansas, Utah, Minnesota, and Idaho.
- Many of those who speak a foreign language at home are not immigrants. Of the nearly 62 million foreign-language speakers, 44 percent (27.2 million) were born in the United States.1
- Of those who speak a foreign language at home, 25.1 million (41 percent) told the Census Bureau that they speak English less than very well.
- States with the largest share of foreign-language speakers in 2013 include: California, 45 percent; New Mexico, 36 percent; Texas 35 percent; New Jersey, 30 percent; Nevada, 30 percent; New York, 30 percent; Florida, 27 percent; Arizona, 27 percent; Hawaii, 25 percent; Illinois, 23 percent; Massachusetts, 22 percent; Connecticut, 22 percent; and Rhode Island, 21 percent.
- States with the largest percentage increases in foreign-language speakers 2010 to 2013 were: North Dakota, up 13 percent; Oklahoma, up 11 percent; Nevada, up 10 percent; New Hampshire, up 8 percent; Idaho, up 8 percent; Georgia, up 7 percent; Washington, up 7 percent; Oregon, up 6 percent; Massachusetts, up 6 percent; Kentucky, up 6 percent; Maryland, up 5 percent; and North Carolina, up 5 percent.
- Taking a longer view, states with the largest percentage increase in foreign-language speakers 2000 to 2013 were: Nevada, up 85 percent; North Carolina, up 69 percent; Georgia, up 69 percent; Washington, up 60 percent; South Carolina, up 57 percent; Virginia, up 57 percent; Tennessee, up 54 percent; Arkansas, up 54 percent; Maryland, up 52 percent; Delaware, up 52 percent; Oklahoma, up 48 percent; Utah, up 47 percent; Idaho, up 47 percent; Nebraska, up 46 percent; Florida, up 46 percent; Alabama, up 43 percent; Texas, up 42 percent; Oregon, up 42 percent; and Kentucky, up 39 percent.
For more information, see the Center for Immigration Studies.
Updated: Tue, Oct 21st 2014 @ 7:50am EDT