Hispanics have surpassed blacks as America’s largest minority race or ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon reported the new figures to the League of United Latin American Citizens June 18. Estimates place the Hispanic population at around 38.8 million as of July 1, making them the largest minority group in America.

“This is an important event in this country, an event that we know is the result of the growth of a vibrant and diverse population that is vital to America’s future,” Kincannon said.

The nation’s Hispanic population grew faster than the general population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. From April 2000 to July 2002, the Hispanic population increased from 35.3 million to 38.8 million—a growth rate of 9.8 percent.

Populations of other people who identify with one race are: 236.2 million for whites, 38.3 million for African-Americans, 13.1 million for Asians, 4.3 million for American Indians and Alaska Natives and 943,000 for native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders.

The U.S. population as a whole grew 2.5 percent, according to the New York Times. And Hispanics accounted for 3.5 million, or fully one-half, of the nation’s population increase of 6.9 million since April 2000.

Kincannon said immigration—legal and illegal—accounted for about 53 percent of the increase. The Hispanic population continues to grow at “a dizzying rate,” he said, of nearly 10 percent in just two years.

The growing Hispanic population is also affecting other areas of the American landscape.

The number of stay-at-home moms has also seen an increase. Last year there were about 10.6 million children whose mothers stayed at home. That was up 13 percent in less than a decade, CNN reported.

CNN listed the cultural influence of America’s growing Hispanic population as one factor driving up the number of mothers who choose to stay at home with their children.

William O’Hare, a researcher with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, told CNN that some Latino cultures place a substantial emphasis on women staying at home to raise children.

The Foundation, a children’s advocacy group, also found that nearly 16 percent of kids with stay-at-home moms lived in poverty, four times the rate of those with working moms.

Census figures also showed that in 2001, 21 percent of Hispanics were below the poverty line. Hispanic children represented 18 percent of all children in the United States but accounted for 30 percent of all children in poverty.

Jodi Mathews is news writer for EthicsDaily.com.

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