The United States is the most popular destination for immigrants in the world. As such, the nation’s demographic composition is anything but static. Comprising over 17% of the total U.S. population, Hispanics and Latinos are one of the largest and fastest growing groups in the United States.
Immigration trends in the United States, which have often been shaped by federally imposed immigration restrictions and quotas, can be broken down into discrete periods. From about 1815 to 1865, the majority of immigrants to the United States hailed from countries in Northern and Western Europe. Between 1880 and 1920, the majority of new arrivals came from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe. Today, the majority of immigrants to the United States come from Latin America.
As recently as 1980, the United States was home to some 14.8 million people of Hispanic or Latino descent. Today, more than 55.9 million Americans identify as Hispanic and Latino. Even as the Hispanic and Latino birth rate has slowed in recent years, the demographic accounted for 54% of the total U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2014 — according to the nonpartisan think tank, Pew Research Center.
Every ethnic group faces challenges upon settling in the United States. Cultural differences, language barriers, and xenophobia can all hinder socioeconomic progress for the newest Americans — and Hispanics and Latinos are no exception.
Nationwide, Hispanic and Latinos are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line than white Americans and are less than half as likely to have a bachelor’s degree. These outcomes are not uniform coast to coast, however, and in some states, inequality between whites and Hispanics is far more pronounced. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a range of data related to income, homeownership, education, and incarceration to identify the worst states for Hispanics and Latinos.