News Column

Report: Idaho's Hispanic Population Grew Drastically During Last Decade

March 4, 2013

Julie Wootton

Over the past decade, the number of Hispanic residents in Idaho has grown drastically faster than other demographic groups.

The Hispanic population grew 73 percent from 2000-2010.

That compares with a 17 percent increase in the number of non-Hispanic residents in the Gem State during the same decade.

It's one finding in the newest Hispanic Profile Data Book for Idaho, released in early February by the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Executive director Margie Gonzalez said the population growth was expected.

"Really, it wasn't a surprise to us," she said. "We just wanted to see those numbers reported accurately."

The 161-page report is based on data from the 2010 Census. It's full of statistics about a wide range of topics, from prenatal care to home ownership.

ICHA pushed to get a more accurate count of the state's Hispanic residents during the 2010 U.S. Census.

Gonzalez the Hispanic population count during the 2000 Census was underreported.

"We knew that the numbers were way off," she said.

As a result, the ICHA stared working with the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006 to encourage more Hispanic residents to self report.

Gonzalez said 2010 numbers are still an undercount of the state's Hispanic population, but are more accurate than past years.

The process of putting together the Hispanic Profile Data Book for Idaho stared a year ago, just after the 2010 Census data came out.

A team of statisticians at Boise State University put together the report with the help of undergraduate students. It's the third data book ICHA has released.

The report lists the 15 Idaho counties with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents. Six from south-central Idaho are included.

In Jerome, the Hispanic population continues to grow.

"It has really taken off," said Jon Melone, executive director of the Jerome Chamber of Commerce. "I don't see it slowing down at all."

He estimates that Hispanic residents currently make up 35 percent of the city's population, although Melone said some say unofficially that it's as high as 50 percent.

Melone said Hispanic residents who are involved with the agriculture and farming keep those industries growing.

Also, he has seen an increase in Hispanic business owners -- particularly in stores along Jerome's historic Main Street.

The chamber of commerce has a membership application in Spanish and includes board members of Hispanic descent, Melone said.

When it comes to city governments, Justin Ruen -- a policy analyst for the Association of Idaho Cities -- said he doesn't know if there have been many impacts due to the increase in Hispanic residents.

It's likely more noticeable for school districts, he said.

In Minidoka County, for example, more than one in four students are Hispanic.

There are 1,741 Hispanic students out of 4,011 students, according to the school district office.

Here are some statistics in the report:

-- Population: The Gem State gained about 74,000 Hispanic residents between 2000 and 2010. That's 11.2 percent of the state's population.

About 45 percent of the state's Hispanic residents were ages 19 and younger in 2010. That compares with 28 percent for non-Hispanics.

-- Education: In 2010, Hispanic students in third through 10th grades lagged behind their classmates in proficiency in reading, language skills and math, according to the report.

About 54 percent of Hispanic residents over age 25 had earned at least a high school diploma in 2010. Seven percent had a bachelor's degree or higher.

-- Mortality rate: About 8.9 percent of deaths between 2008 and 2010 among Hispanic residents were children under age 1.

That compares with 0.9 percent among the same age group in non-Hispanic children.

-- Poverty: In 2010, 29 percent of Idaho's Hispanic residents were living below the poverty level. That compares with 16 percent among the state's total population.

-- Income: The median yearly income for Hispanic households was $34,552 -- about $10,000 lower than Caucasian households.

Average per capita buying power climbed from $10,215 in 2005 to $15,355 in 2010.

-- Voting: Between 2006 and 2008, the number of registered Hispanic voters grew from 16,000 to 37,000.



Source: (c)2013 The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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