Is America’s Largest Majority Declining? The Future of Hispanic Identity

September 29, 2021 Author: ThinkNow

Every year around this time, we celebrate the culture, traditions, and contributions of Hispanic Americans. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th through October 15th. This year, we take this opportunity to highlight the size of this demographic and predict changes on the horizon.

But first, the data. Based on the 2020 Census, Hispanics now account for 18% of the U.S. population. This represents a 23% increase over 2010, bringing the overall Hispanic/Latino population to 62 million. The African American population remained steady at 46 million, whereas Asians reported the most growth, now at 26 million. The White/Caucasian majority remained unchanged at around 204 million. The multiracial population, however, has doubled since 2010 to a population of 33.8 million, a growth of 276%. At this rate, this group will reach 100 million by 2030.

While Hispanics represent the largest minority segment in the U.S. today, the total population is facing a decline in the next decade, which may signal the demise of the majority or minority groups in the U.S. in 20 to 30 years.

Hispanic identity fades with new generations.

Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race, and only in the USA is it used as a racial identifier. Latin America does not segment its population as Hispanic. It does not exist in their census. Even though 62 million Americans identified as U.S. Hispanic in the 2020 Census, the Hispanic ethnicity will decline as new generations assimilate into American culture. ThinkNow conducted a study and found that of first-generation U.S. Hispanics, over 80% identified as Hispanic/Latino. Of those second-generation, about 40% identified as Hispanic/Latino (already a 50% drop), and only 10% of third-generation identified as Hispanic/Latino. Out of the current 62 million Hispanics, 47% are first-generation (born in the USA of immigrant parents). Seventeen percent are second-generation (both parents or one parent born in the USA), and 12% are immigrants. The rest are third and higher generations. In ten years, as the trend continues, there will be more second-generation, U.S. born Hispanics whom at least 40% won't identify as Hispanic.

If the data continues to trend this way, by the 2030 Census, the Hispanic population will decline or remain about the same. This change in Hispanic identity is already having an effect. For example, in entertainment, specifically Spanish language programming targeting Spanish-speaking consumers in the U.S., Telemundo and Univision, two of the top Spanish-speaking networks in the country, are experiencing a decline in viewership among young Hispanics. Millennials and Gen Z, in general, prefer English to Spanish.

Latinx isn’t mainstream it's online.

Another trend we’re seeing and have been hotly debating for the past few years is the term “Latinx.” While its use may seem ubiquitous, the momentum only exists online, popularized on social media, and romanticized by hashtags and influencers. Outside of the internet in the physical world, only 3% of Latino/Hispanics identify as Latinx. Twenty percent have heard of the term, and a whopping 76% have never heard of it. The Hispanic community, as a whole, does not connect with this identifier despite its use online and in political campaigns. To date, there are no signs there will be greater adoption of this term.

Despite the possibility of a slow decline in the Hispanic majority, these consumers will continue to be cultural and economic drivers in the U.S.