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Latino Population
March 7, 2001
Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first demographic details to emerge from the 2000 Census show the Hispanic population in the U.S. has grown much faster than expected and is roughly equal to that of African Americans, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The number of Americans who described themselves as Hispanic grew by nearly 60 percent and now totals 35.3 million, roughly 3 million more than the Census Bureau had predicted, the Post reported.

Demographers have said for years that Hispanics would become the largest minority group in the U.S. early this century, but that milestone is arriving sooner than forecast, the newspaper said.

The unexpected increase in Hispanics is probably due mainly to high levels of immigration and poor counting in the past, the Post said. John Long, chief of the Census Bureau's population division, was quoted as saying that earlier government estimates may have missed many immigrants, both documented and undocumented...

While the new racial counts reflect real demographic shifts, they also result from changing census policies, including the ability to report more than one race, the Post said. That option was allowed for the first time in the 2000 Census.