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Barbara Everitt Bryant, Director
C.L. Kincannon, Deputy Director

William P. Butz, Associate Director for
Demographic Programs

Paula J. Schneider, Chief


U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 449 The Hispanic Population in the United States: March 1990

U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1991.

For sale by Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

The Hispanic Population in the United States: March 1990

(The estimates in this report do not reflect the results of the 1990 census. See appendix B for the estimation procedure)


This report presents data on the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the Hispanic population in the United States.1 The Bureau of the Census collected this information in the March 1990 supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). In addition, the report highlights changes in selected characteristics of Hispanics since 1982. This year was selected for two reasons. First, the last recessionary period ended in late 1982. Using 1982 as the bench-mark allows to assess how Hispanics have fared during the most recent economic recovery period. Second, 1982 was the first year in which the Census Bureau introduced Hispanic population controls, which improved the reliability of the CPS data on Hispanics. Some of the principal findings are summarized below.


Hispanic adults 25 years and over made small, but significant gains in educational attainment since 1983. • Hispanic unemployment in March 1990 (8.2 percent ±0.8) was about half of what it was in March 1983 (16.5 percent ± 1.0).

• The poverty rate of Hispanic families in 1989 (23.4 percent± 1.5) was lower than it was in 1982 (27.2 percent 2.0).

Nearly one-half (47.9 percent ± 3.4) of all Hispanic persons living in poverty in 1989 were children under age 18.

• The median income of Hispanic households in 1989 ($21,900 $675) was about 13 percent higher than

it was in 1982 ($19,500+ $824) after taking into account changes in the cost of living.

• The median income of Hispanic families in 1989 ($23,400 $994) was about 12 percent higher than it was in 1982 ($20,900 $851 in 1989 dollars).


NOTE: CPS estimates of the Hispanic-origin population shown in this report are inflated to national totals using weights derived from independent post-census estimates. These postcensus estimates of the Hispanic population were used to eliminate fluctuations in the CPS estimates of the size of the

'The population universe in the March 1990 CPS is the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States and members of the Armed Forces in the United States living off post or with their families on post, but excludes all other members of the Armed Forces.

total Hispanic population resulting from sampling variability. In addition, the independent estimates provide a post-census time series of data comparable with the 1980 census information for Hispanics.

Independent estimates were developed only for the size of the total Hispanic population and not for subgroups of the Hispanic population. Consequently, figures on the number of persons in each of the Hispanic subgroups, as well as the social and economic characteristics shown in this report, remain subject to sampling error and random annual fluctuations.

In March 1990, the estimate of the Hispanic-origin population in the United States is about 20.8 million, or about 8.4 percent of the total population. The Hispanic population comprised the following groups:

Mexican 64.0 percent (±.86)

Puerto Rican 10.5 percent (±.55) 2
Cuban 4.9 percent (±.39)

Central and South American 13.7 percent (±.62)
Other Hispanic 6.9 percent (±.46) 3


The size of the Hispanic-origin population and its subgroups will be updated from the 1990 census results, which is a complete count of the population. CHARACTERISTICS OF HOUSEHOLDS

According to the March 1990 CPS, there were about 5.9 million households in which the householder was Hispanic.4 This number was an increase of 1.9 million or about 68 percent since 1980. In March 1990, Hispanic

2The March 1990 CPS estimate of the Puerto Rican population on the mainland appears to be low, compared with the independent evidence presented in last year's report, The Hispanic Population in the United States: March 1989, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 444, pp. 25-28. Preliminary information from the 1990 census of Puerto Rico indicates, however, that the migration data (based on passenger statistics to and from the mainland) may have overstated the actual population movement out of Puerto Rico. This, in turn, may mean that the mainland independent estimate of Puerto Ricans was overstated by that amount. At this time, it is best to wait for the final 1990 census counts of both the mainland and the island populations in order to get a fix on the size and growth of the Puerto Rican mainland population. In the meantime, the Census Bureau will continue its effort to better understand the reasons for the fluctuations in the Puerto Rican estimates from CPS data.


Unless otherwise noted, persons reporting "Other Hispanic❞ are those whose origins are from Spain, or they are Hispanic persons identifying themselves generally as Hispanic, Spanish, Spanish-American, Hispano, Latino, etc.

"The Census Bureau defines a Hispanic household as one in which the householder is Hispanic. The term householder refers to the person (or one of the persons) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained), or if there is no such person, any adult member, excluding roomers, boarders, or paid employees. A household comprises the person or persons who occupy a housing unit. Although a large majority of households contain families, many do not.

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