A taco truck in East Harlem, a traditionally Puerto Rican section which has become more Mexican in recent decades. (Photo: D. Graglia)
Despite the U.S. Latino population’s diversity and widespread presence, certain Hispanic groups have traditionally been associated with specific U.S cities – Mexicans in L.A. and Chicago, Cubans in Miami, Puerto Ricans in New York.
But New York’s Hispanic face is rapidly changing. By 2024, a new study says, New York’s largest Hispanic group will be Mexicans, with Dominicans in second place. The predicted shift is due to both the migration of Puerto Ricans to other states and other parts of the metro area, and the ongoing influx of people from other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The city’s Latino population increased by 2.5 percent between 2006 and 2007, to over 2,337,000, the report said.
While several groups have become larger, the rates of growth for Mexicans and Ecuadorians are particularly striking: since 2000, the number of Mexicans increased by 57.7 percent — to over 289,000 — and Ecuadorians, by 38 percent, to over 201,000.
“At this pace and according to projections, in 2025 Mexicans will be the biggest Hispanic group in the city,” said the Center’s directorLaird Bergadin presenting the study,according toHoynewspaper.
“Although the data cannot be exact,” Bergad added, “they do represent the trends felt day to day on the city’s streets.”
The study showed two interesting bits of information: for the first year since the 1980s the city’s Puerto Rican population in 2007 grew instead of declining, and also for the first year in over two decades, the number of Dominicans decreased.
Puerto Ricans, who are account for one of every three Latinos in the city, increased by 0.9 percent between 2006 and 2007. But the overall trend is downwards: since 2000 the city’s Puerto Rican population had dropped by 2.6 percent.
Dominicans, who have been arriving in strong numbers since the mid-’60s, went down by 1.3 percent between 2006 and 2007, but they showed an increase of 13 percent since 2000.
The report said “the sharp rise” in the Mexican-origin population between 2006 and 2007 (9.8 percent) was due to “continued migration to New York City.” Some 26,000 people were added to the local Mexican population and 44 percent of them were foreign-born.
Predicted evolution of Latino national subgroups in New York City. (Screen capture from CUNY report.)
Limonic explained the future evolution of the city’s Latino population this way,
If population growth continues at the yearly rates found between 2000 and 2007 Dominicans will surpass Puerto Ricans and become the largest sector of the City’s Latino population in 2020.
Mexicans will surpass Puerto Ricans to become the second largest Latino national group behind Dominicans in 2022, two years later; and in only another 2 years, by 2024, Mexicans will surpass Dominicans to become New York City’s most numerous Latino nationality, in less than two decades.
While census figures are the most reliable population count available, Latino community advocates usually point out that they are not always accurate when accounting for Latino immigrants because of the presence of undocumented newcomers among them.