The number of Hispanics in Maryland continued to grow sharply in the first two years of this decade and now totals more than a quarter of a million, according to new estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau being released today.
Most of the increase in Hispanics -- 24,011 out of 28,594 -- occurred in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the data show. Together, the two Washington suburbs are home to 7 out of 10 of the state's 256,510 Hispanics, the data show.
The number of Asians grew by roughly the same number and now totals just less than 240,000, the new figures show.
Natali Sani, an advocacy specialist at Casa of Maryland, a Takoma Park-based community organization serving the Hispanic population, said the 12.5 percent increase in the number of Hispanics was "very noticeable."
"If you go to businesses, there are more Hispanic people working there. If you go to schools, there are more Hispanic students," she said.
Three other Maryland jurisdictions with Hispanic populations of 10,000 or more -- Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City -- experienced far smaller but significant gains.
In 1990, 125,102 Hispanics were living in Maryland.
The estimates being issued today for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and more than 3,000 counties are the first since Census 2000 showing population breakdowns by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. Based on administrative data such as birth and death records and migration figures, they cover the period from April 2000 through July 1 last year. Baltimore is one of the few cities to have its estimates reported with counties because it is a self-contained jurisdiction and not part of a larger county.
Among the findings nationwide:
Florida, known as a retirement haven, had an increase of 147,000 school-age children, the largest such numerical gain in the country. The Sunshine State now has 2.8 million residents ages 5 to 17, just below the 2.9 million residents who are 65 and older.
Minorities made up the majority of the population in Hawaii (77 percent), the District of Columbia (72 percent), New Mexico (56 percent) and California (54 percent).
Among counties with 100,000 people or more, Broward County, Fla., recorded the largest numerical increase of blacks, with 50,000, while Forsyth County, Ga., saw the largest percentage increase at 88 percent.
Among the states, California registered the greatest increase in the number of Hispanics with 970,000, bringing the number of Hispanics in the state to 11.9 million, while Georgia had the greatest percentage increase at 19 percent.
The census treats Hispanic origin and race as separate questions, so that those who identify themselves as Hispanic can also identify themselves as black, white or a member of other races. In Maryland, four out of five Hispanics identify themselves as white.
In Maryland, the number of non-Hispanic whites grew by about 80,000 through July last year to nearly 3.4 million, a reversal of the 1990s, when the number declined by about 39,000.
Mark Goldstein, an economist with the Maryland Department of Planning, said the change was likely the result of the fact that Maryland's economy was relatively stronger than that of other states, leading fewer people to leave Maryland for jobs elsewhere and more to come here seeking employment.
The number of non-Hispanic blacks grew by nearly 50,000 to about 1.5 million, according to the census estimates.
Overall, as the census has previously reported, Maryland's population stood at 5,458,137 as of July last year. That compares with 5,296,486 in the 2000 Census.
Nearly half the state's Asian population lives in Montgomery County; a third lives in Prince George's, Baltimore and Howard counties.
Other data indicates that Maryland is one of just 15 states that had an increase in the number of school-age children this decade. The number of children ages 5 to 17 grew by 11,601 to 1,014,380, the bureau reported.