News / USA

Rising Hispanic Population Transforming Texas

Census figures show the population of non-Hispanic whites is increasing at a much slower pace than that of Hispanics in Texas
Census figures show the population of non-Hispanic whites is increasing at a much slower pace than that of Hispanics in Texas


Recently released data from the 2010 U.S. census shows significant growth in the nation's Hispanic population.  And nowhere has that growth been more dramatic than in the southwestern state of Texas, the state with the biggest overall population increase during the past decade.  Experts say the demographic shifts pose a challenge for the state and that its future prosperity will depend on how Texas meets that challenge.

Not long ago, the annual Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Luncheon was the city's biggest Hispanic business event of the year.  Now it is the biggest business event of any kind in the city, drawing many non-Hispanic figures from industry and government as well as Latino business owners.

During the past four years, under the leadership of President and Chief Executive Officer Laura Murillo, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has experienced a 600 percent growth in membership.  She says Houston's young population, its location and the business-friendly environment in Texas all help.

"Our chamber, for example, has attracted many sponsors that had traditionally gone to Miami or Los Angeles," noted Murillo.  "They are coming to Houston now because they have found that the economy of Houston is so much stronger than it is in other parts of the country."

Many businesses here see an advantage in hiring local Hispanics who can help them build links with Latin America.

Francisco Grados works for an accounting firm whose workforce is now 30 percent Hispanic.

"We have several clients from Latin America, Spain," said Grados.  "And even though they speak English, they feel more confident, secure speaking Spanish.  And it is an advantage to be bilingual."

Rice University sociologist Steve Murdock says the future of Texas depends on Hispanics, because they are the fastest growing segment of the state's population.

"Sixty-five percent of the [population] growth in Texas was due to the Hispanic population," said Murdock.

Census figures show the population of non-Hispanic whites, often called Anglos in the Latino community, is increasing at a much slower pace than that of Hispanics.  Very few Texas counties are experiencing Anglo population growth, while most others show a decline.  The opposite is true for Hispanics.

Although immigrants account for most Hispanic population growth in other U.S. states, sociologist Steve Murdock says the growth in Texas comes mostly from a natural increase within an already established population.

"Most Hispanics in Texas are not immigrants; they have been here for multiple generations," said Murdock.  "And remember, there are parts of Texas that have been Hispanic longer than they have been Anglo."

But Murdock says census figures show a looming problem for Texas in that minorities, especially Hispanics, tend to be less educated and earn much less on average than non-Hispanic whites.

"The modal minority is a Hispanic male, 25 to 29 years of age, with less than a high school level of education and making about $35,000, down about $3,000, in real dollar terms, from 1999 to 2009," he added.

Murdock says the state's economic future depends on how well Texas educates this dynamic young population.

"If we could meet that challenge, what some of us call the Texas challenge, we could have a younger population than most other parts of the country in a time period when aging of the population is going to be a major problem," Murdock noted.

The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Laura Murillo says education of young Hispanics is the key to this state's future.

"We will be the economic engine, not only of the city of Houston, but of Texas.  And that will require a more educated Hispanic community," said Murdock.

But politicians in the Texas capital, Austin, are struggling with a deficit of more than $20 billion, and they are cutting rather than expanding some educational programs.

Being raised by Mexican-American parents who emphasized the value of education helped bank executive Michelle Hitchings find success.  She says she sees it as the best investment the state can make.

"It is a huge mistake cutting education funds, especially early childhood education, which, now we know, is more important than ever," said Hitchings.

Hitchings says she knows that many young Latinos could be inspired by her example and she spends time working with the Girl Scouts and other community groups to encourage children to aspire to great things.

Partly because of these role models and their influence, Laura Murillo says she is optimistic about the role Hispanics will play in the future of Texas.

"I see a Texas that is truly going to be a model for what the rest of the United States will look for in terms of a state with a predominant Hispanic community that Texas will be the model for the rest of the states to follow," Murillo added.

Laura Murillo calls the city's Hispanic business people the "leaders of Houston's new majority."

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs