Hispanics Now Outnumber Whites in Texas
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Hispanics are now the largest population group in Texas, surpassing non-Hispanic white residents who have outnumbered other racial groups in the state since at least 1850.
The switch likely happened in late 2021 but was not officially confirmed until the U.S. Census released official population numbers in June 2023. The numbers show that Hispanics have been the state’s largest population group at least since July 2022.
Texas officials were expecting the change.
“A significant proportion of that was being driven by more births than deaths,” says Texas state demographer Lloyd Potter. “The other part of this is that the Hispanic population is younger, meaning their age structure is younger. There are fewer people at the older ages, more people at the younger ages than the other race, ethnic groups.”
And the younger a group is, the more babies they’re likely to have. In addition, Hispanics make up a significant portion of people moving to the Lone Star State. One in five domestic migrants to Texas is of Hispanic descent, while almost half of international migrants are of Hispanic origin.
The most recent numbers show that the Hispanic population in Texas makes up 40.2% of the population, while non-Hispanic whites account for 39.8%, according to Potter, who doesn’t expect to see a seismic societal shift as a result.
“The Hispanic population has been in Texas before it was Texas … it’s certainly part of our culture,” he says. “It’s not anything that’s new to Texas. I think there probably is the question about what impact it may have on politics.”
Historically, Hispanics have reliably voted for Democrats. But that’s no longer true, according to Sharon Navarro, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“What we’re now seeing is that Latinos are voting based on issues, issues that they find more important to them … that are the same as the larger population,” she says. “In other words, it’s still jobs. It’s still the economy. It’s still education. Still health care. …Latinos are willing to cross the line in terms of issues.”
For example, Navarro says, the oil and gas industries, which are among the state’s biggest employers, are important to the Hispanic population. Whichever party or candidate makes that a top issue could make serious inroads with Hispanic voters.
What could impact the state in the long term is not having a sufficiently educated workforce to fill future jobs. Recent figures show that 95% of white adults in Texas at least have a high school diploma. But only 70% of Hispanic adults graduated from high school.
“We’re adding higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs faster than we are the lower-skilled, lower-paid jobs,” Potter says. “So, to fill those jobs, we need to ensure the growing segments of our population have the educational attainment to fill those jobs. And that largely needs to be focused on the Spanish population.”
Navarro says any economic and political gains made by Hispanics are good for the state.
“With the demographics changing and the white population slowly aging, there’s going to have to be more investment — economic investment and political investment — in the Latino population,” she says. “Otherwise, there will be a sort-of race to the bottom without this kind of investment in moving forward.”