Get to Know the Hispanics Around You Foreign Languages Department
Salem State University

Hispanics in Massachusetts

Minorities in Massachusetts

A very white state. Click on map for enlarged version
In Massachusetts too there has been an increase in the number of Hispanics, though there are less Hispanics in our state than the average for the country. Actually, Massachusetts has very few minorities in general. According to the Census 2000, 84.5% of the population of Massachusetts is White. But this figure is down from 1990 when Whites were 89.8% of the population.


TABLE: Selected Massachusetts Facts, with comparisons to the USA as a whole

Population figures for Massachusetts by race and ethnicity for 2000 (see Table 5 below)
In our state the population for all the minorities has increased between 1990 and 2000. The increase for Hispanics was almost 50%. The increase for Asians is even higher, although there are about half as many Asians as Hispanics. Still, Hispanics in this state are only slightly over half the national average, or 6.8% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites have slightly decreased in absolute numbers and in relative terms.

Interestingly, the 2000 Census for Massachusetts reveals that some ancestries have higher population percentages than do Hispanics. Irish, Italians, English and French ancestries are higher percentages of the Massachusetts population (22.5%, 13.5%, 11.4% and 8% respectively) than Hispanics are (6.8%).


TABLE: Population figures for Massachusetts by race and ethnicity for 1990 and 2000 (5)

TABLE: Reported ancestry for Massachusetts in Census 2000

Distribution of Hispanics in the state and origin

Hispanics in Massachusetts are not evenly spread throughout the state or in the North Shore (larger map). In three counties Essex, Hampden, and Suffolk Hispanics are more than ten percent of the population: 11%, 15.2% and 15.5% respectively. In many counties, however, their numbers are negligible.

TABLE: Profiles 2000 Massachusetts. Hispanic population in different Massachusetts counties

Within each county too, the percentage of Hispanics may vary greatly from one town to another . Thus there are towns and cities where half or more of the population is Hispanic, such as Chelsea and Lawrence, and others such as Danvers or Marblehead, in which there are barely any Hispanics. The same is true about other minorities. In general, towns that don't have many Hispanics, don't have many other minorities either.

TABLE: Population of selected Massachusetts towns and Essex Country from Census 2000

TABLE (RTF): Population of All Massachusetts towns and counties by race and ethnicity Census 2000

The Hispanic population in Salem is 11.2% of the total for that city, closer to the national average. But Salem is not a very diverse city: 85.4% are Whites, 3.2 Blacks, 2.0% Asians, 6.7% from other groups (2.5% of the Salem population checked off two or more races in the last census).

CLose to half of the Hispanics in Massachusetts were Puerto Rican (46%) and the rest were from other countries, very few being from the other major Hispanic groups: only 6% were of Mexican origin and less than 2% were Cuban.

The majority of the Hispanics in Salem are not from the larger Hispanic groups but from other countries of origin. Mexicans are less than 3%, Puerto Ricans 16.7%, and Cuban only 1%. Close to 80% of Salem's Hispanics are of the "Other" category, of which the majority are Dominicans (who are only 2.2% of all Hispanics in the U.S.). In the state of Massachusetts as a whole, more than half of Hispanics are Puerto Rican and very few are Mexican or Cuban.

TABLE: Breakdown of Hispanic population in Salem, Massachusetts

Age demographics

However, although Hispanics are only 11.2% of the population in Salem, they are 22.2% of the population under 18. Thus, for example, of the 220 students graduating from high school in 2001 in Salem, 48 or almost 22% were Hispanic. The number and percentage of the Latino population under age 18 in the different communities in Essex County: 30,952 out of 186,209, or 16.62 percent. We can see that Hispanics are concentrated in the larger school districts, such as Salem (22.2% of people under 18), Lawrence (71.76%), Methuen (15.43), Lynn (26.97) or Haverhill (14.06%). The number of Hispanic high-school graduates in Essex County for the year 2001 was 798 out of 6,138 or exactly 13%.

Table 10: Population under age 18 in Salem, Massachusetts, by race and ethnicity

Hispanics and education

Although a large percentage of Hispanics graduate from high school in Massachusetts, the figures for higher education are not as bright. For example, Hispanics were only 3% of full-time undergraduate students enrolled at Salem State University in the fall of 2002, 138 out of 4,515, with twice as many Hispanic women as men enrolled. More worrisome is that only 24 out of the 1,266 students receiving their baccalaureate degree in 2002 1.9% of the total, which includes foreign students were Hispanics. Hispanics were also only 1.21% of part-time graduate students.

Table 11: Essex County school districts. 1 High School Completers in 2000-2001; and Hispanics under age 18


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