New Census Bureau figures confirm what many Americans can already see with their own eyes: The numbers of their foreign-born neighbors are growing. And the change is most dramatic in states not known for having large numbers of immigrants.
Driven by immigration from Mexico, the trend partly explains why Latinos accounted for half of America's growth over the past five years.
Virtually every state in the nation saw a rise in its Latino population from 2000 to 2005, according to the new mid-decade Census Bureau report known as the American Community Survey. In states like Georgia, Tennessee, Nevada and South Carolina, the Hispanic population jumped more than 40 percent in the period -- and Arkansas has seen an almost 50 percent increase.
Nationally, West Virginia was the only state in the period studied that did not show a rise in minority population.
Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution says the new census figures reveal what he calls "a dispersal of diversity" throughout the country. It's part of a trend that dates back 15 years, to when economic recession made states such as California, Texas, New York, and Florida less attractive.