By Mary Mcnulty
Hispanics are a part of the California landscape, composing 38 percent of the state’s population. While Miami is influenced by Cubans and New York by Puerto Ricans, California has deep roots in the culture of Mexico, especially in LA, Long Beach, and in Orange County, Santa Ana.
Nationally, four California regions are represented in the top-10-populated Mexican US areas. LA is number one, Riverside/San Bernardino number five, San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos number seven, and San Francisco/Oakland/Vallejo number nine.
Putting this into perspective, LA and the greater Riverside area have a Mexican population averaging 13 percent. In LA, 1.735 million or 13.3 percent of the residents and in Riverside 562,000 or 12.9 percent of the residents, were originally from Mexico. The percentage decreases in the San Diego area to 10.6 percent or 337,000 residents, leaving only the area of San Francisco. Northern California has a Mexican immigrant population of 250,000 or 5.6 percent.
With such a high concentration of Spanish speakers many converse in the native language. Some estimates show that as many as 75 percent speak Spanish at home, creating educational issues. Classes of K through 12 in the state are composed of 51 percent Hispanics. Language barriers can have a significant impact to the educational system, especially in areas such as LA.
The California Hispanic population as a whole is young and poor. The average age is only 27 with a median income of $20,000. The percentage of Hispanics in the state living in poverty (17 and younger) is 31 percent. The most surprising statistic is, despite the numbers listed above, 48 percent of Hispanics do own their home.
The impact of Hispanic culture, especially the Mexican influence, cannot be overlooked in California. The state’s Hispanic population is estimated at 14.358 million, which is 38 percent of the state total. In LA, the total increases to 48 percent. Nationally, LA County accounts for 9 percent of the US Hispanic population.
Los Angeles and Orange County have numerous cities with a Hispanic population greater than 30 percent.
READ MORE: California Hispanic Population
The Hispanic community is responsible for a large portion of the California culture. The impact on the economy and educational system in LA cannot be denied. Access to opportunities to improve language skills is essential for economic mobility.
Hispanics now outnumber the white population in California, with 14.99 million Hispanics and 14.92 million whites. Understanding the Hispanic culture is, in part, understanding California.