There’s no shortage of racial groups
in the United States. That’s one of the characteristics that distinguishes the nation from others. But just because the U.S. is known as a melting pot or, more recently, as a salad bowl, doesn’t mean that Americans are as familiar with the cultural groups in their country as they should be. The U.S. Census Bureau
helps to shed light on the ethnic minorities in the U.S. by compiling statistics that break down everything from the regions certain groups are concentrated in to their contributions to the military and advances in areas such as business and education.
The Hispanic-American population is among the fastest growing in the United States. In 2012, Latinos made up nearly 17 percent of the U.S. population. By 2050, Hispanics are projected to make up a whopping 30 percent of the U.S. population. As the Hispanic community expands, Latinos are making headway in areas such as business. The census reports that Hispanic-owned businesses grew 43.6 percent between 2002 and 2007. While Latinos are advancing as entrepreneurs, they face challenges in the educational arena. Just 62.2 percent of Latinos had graduated from high school in 2010, compared to 85 percent of Americans overall. Latinos also suffer from a higher poverty rate than the general population. Only time will tell if Hispanics will close these gaps as their population grows.
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For years, African Americans were the nation’s largest minority group. Today, Latinos have outpaced blacks in population growth, but African Americans continue to play an influential role in American culture. Despite this, misconceptions about African Americans persist. Census data helps to clear up some of the longstanding negative stereotypes
about blacks. For example, black businesses are booming, blacks have a long tradition of military service, with black veterans amounting to more than 2 million in 2010. Moreover, blacks graduate from high school at about the same rate as Americans do overall. In places such as New York City, black immigrants lead immigrants from other racial groups in earning high school diplomas. While blacks have long been associated with urban centers in the East and Midwest, census data reveals that African Americans have relocated to the South in such large numbers that most blacks in the country now live in the former Confederacy.
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As of 2012, Asian Americans made up 5 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Although this is a small slice of the overall American population, Asian Americans constitute one of the fastest growing groups in the country. The Asian-American population is a diverse one. Most Asian Americans have Chinese ancestry, followed by Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. Considered collectively, Asian Americans stand out as a minority group that has excelled beyond the mainstream in educational attainment and socioeconomic status. Asian Americans have higher household incomes than Americans generally. They also have higher rates of educational attainment. But not all Asian groups are well off. Pacific Islanders suffer from much higher rates of poverty than the Asian-American population overall does and lower levels of educational attainment. The key takeaway from census statistics about Asian Americans is to remember that this is an eclectic group.
Thanks to movies such as Last of the Mohicans, there’s the idea that Native Americans no longer exist in the United States. While the American Indian population isn’t especially large. There are more than five million Native Americans in the U.S.—1.7 percent of the nation’s total. Nearly half of these Native Americans identify as multiracial. Most American Indians identify as Cherokee followed by Navajo, Choctaw, Mexican-American Indian, Chippewa, Sioux, Apache, and Blackfeet. Between 2000 and 2010, the Native American population actually grew by 26.7 percent, or 1.1 million. Most American Indians live in the following states: California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Washington, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota and Illinois. Like other minority groups, Native Americans are succeeding as entrepreneurs, with Native businesses growing by 17.7 percent from 2002 to 2007.
Once a maligned minority group in the United States, today Irish Americans are widely part of mainstream U.S. culture. More Americans claim Irish ancestry than any other outside of German. A number of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama and Andrew Jackson, had Irish ancestors. At one time relegated to menial labor, Irish Americans now dominate managerial and professional positions. To boot, Irish Americans boast higher median household incomes and high school graduation rates than Americans overall. Just 6.9 percent of members of Irish American households live in poverty.