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[New Data] How can governments better engage the Hispanic population?

Back in April, I asked the question: “How Can Social Media Help Governments Serve the Booming Hispanic Population?” I gave a few ideas then (see the bottom of that post).

Well just last Thursday (May 26th), the U.S. Census Bureau “released a 2010 Census brief on the nation’s Hispanic population”. It’s got some newly compiled data in it. Here are some of the highlights:

  • “Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four times the nation’s 9.7% growth rate
  • The Hispanic population growth of 15.2 million people “accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase (of 27.3 million)”

(For some thoughts on “How can local governments better engage the Hispanic population?”, scroll down to the end of this post.)

Where was the population growth?

“The Hispanic population grew in every region of the United States between 2000 and 2010, and most significantly in the South and Midwest.”

  • “The South saw a 57% increase in its Hispanic population” (4 times the 14% total population growth in the South.
  • In the Midwest, Hispanic population grew by 49%” (more than 12 times the 4% growth of the total pop. in the Midwest).

(click here for larger image)

Hispanic growth by State

“The Hispanic population experienced growth between 2000 and 2010 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” (emphasis added)

  • “In 2010, 37.6 million, or 75%, of Hispanics lived in the 8 states with Hispanic populations of 1 million or more: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado.”
  • However, “Hispanics were 16% or more of the state population (matching or exceeding the national level) in eight other states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas.”

Hispanic growth by County

  • “The Hispanic population increased to more than twice its size since 2000 in at least one of every four counties.”
  • “Of the 3,143 counties in the United States, Hispanics at least doubled in population size in 912 of them.”
  • “Hispanics were the majority of the population in 82 out of the nation’s 3,143 counties.”

Not where you might expect: “Among the 469 counties with at least 10,000 or more Hispanics in 2010, the top five fastest growing counties were Luzerne, Pa. (479 percent change); Henry, Ga. (339 percent change); Kendall, Ill. (338 percent change); Douglas, Ga. (321 percent change); and Shelby, Ala. (297 percent change).”

Here’s an interactive map of the percent of Hispanics per county for 2010 (*minus Alaska & Broomfield County, CO). Below is a static map of (what should be) the same thing.

(click here for larger image)

The quotes above were from here. Here’s the PDF of the actual brief.

How can local governments better engage the Hispanic population?

So what’s the point? Well… many local governments are going to have to serve an ever-increasing population of people who don’t necessarily communicate the best in English. And although this Census data doesn’t discuss language specifically, at very-least, governments are going to have to adapt to helping people with a different culture than what they might be used to.

How can governments better engage these citizens? After all, they too live in the community, run businesses, and pay taxes.

Some ideas:

  • Learn their culture.
  • Find out how they would like to interact with their government. Treat them like you would want to be treated. Some Hispanics would have a much better experience with government if things were in Spanish. And isn’t that key to strong customer service in government: Helping people to have a pleasant experience? In fact, you might even consider hiring customer service personnel who are multi-lingual.
  • Use simple technologies to communicate with them (such as Twitter and Facebook). You might be surprised at how many Hispanics use the Internet and social media. Worried about a “digital divide”? According to a post from the Davenport Institute, they draw the conclusion that Gov 2.0 may actually help engage Hispanics.
  • For more ideas, see the bottom of this post on the topic of “How Can Social Media Help Governments Serve the Booming Hispanic Population?

What other ideas do you have? Let me know below!

A similar version of this was originally posted at the company that I work for’s product blog (Disclosure: the product deals w/ transparency, gov’t, & technology)

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