Latinx Files: Where do we live?

Clockwise from top left are New Mexico, California, North Dakota, Georgia, Florida, New York, Illinois Texas
Where do Latinxs live?
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times)

One of the biggest takeaways from the 2020 U.S. Census was that Latinxs were responsible for more than half of the U.S. population growth over the last decade. The findings of the decennial count revealed that we now account for 18.7% of the total population, or roughly 62.1 million people.

But have you wondered where exactly Latinxs live?

Last month, the Pew Research Center published a report that does a really great job at answering this question.

Some of the findings are obvious.

For example, a lot of Latinxs live in Southern California. Five of the 10 counties with the largest Latinx populations were in the region — Los Angeles (4.8 million people), Riverside (1.2 million) , San Bernardino (1.17 million), San Diego (1.11 million) and Orange (1.08 million). Altogether, these counties are home to roughly 15% of the total U.S. Latinx population.

Similarly, the five non-California counties on the list — Harris County, Texas (2.03 million); Miami-Dade County, Fla. (1.85 million); Cook County, Ill. (1.38); Maricopa County, Ariz. (1.35 million); Bexar County, Texas (1.19 million) — are all “metropolitan counties with historically Hispanic populations,” including places such as Houston, Miami and Chicago. (As a side note, I was genuinely surprised to see the absence of any New York counties on this list.)


But Pew’s analysis of census data also found that more and more Latinxs are popping up in unexpected places. Like North Dakota, for instance.

The Flickertail State (yes, I had to look that up, along with “flickertail,” which is apparently a type of rodent) saw a bigger increase in its Latinx population (148%) than any other. Why are Latinxs moving there? My best guess is that people are going where the jobs are. Over the last 10 years, the Latinx populations of McKenzie and Williams counties increased by 1,002% and 794%, respectively. Both are also big oil producers.

“The U.S. Latino population has been shifting away from states with historically large Latino populations for decades,” the authors of the Pew report note.

“As recently as 1990, 86% of Latinos lived in just nine states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas). Although the Latino population has grown in each of these states, their share of all U.S. Latinos had dropped to 73% by 2020.”

Pardon me for sounding like a broken record, but this report really drives home the point that Latinxs are not a monolith. Our experiences are our own, and the places we call home play a crucial role in shaping them.

You can find the complete Pew Research Center study, which includes detailed maps, here.

Also, if you’re a Latinx living in North Dakota, or in another non-traditionally Latinx part of the country, hit me up ( because I very much want to talk to you.

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The 2022 Latinx vote

The 2022 election cycle is well underway and already the Latinx electorate appears likely to play a crucial role. Here’s a quick roundup of some storylines from across the country that have caught my attention:


— California lost a congressional seat after the last census, but the redistricting also added more majority-Latinx districts in the state. Columnist Jean Guerrero explains how Latina voters could prove to be the key to Democrats holding on to the House.

“They’re the ones politicians would be wise to pay attention to,” Pablo Rodriguez, executive director of Communities for a New California Education Fund, told Guerrero.

— In Florida, the Latino Victory Fund is urging national party leaders to keep investing in the state, reports Politico’s Sabrina Rodriguez.

“We cannot build national Latino political power without investing in Florida,” said Nathalie Rayes, president and chief executive of the democratic super PAC. “The state must always, always, always be part of the equation.”

— One of the races I’ll be keeping an eye on is Colorado’s 8th Congressional District. Created after the 2020 Census, the district has the largest Latinx population in the state at 39%. Latinx-heavy districts generally tend to vote for the Democratic Party, but that might not end up being the case for the 8th.

“The race could end up a tug of war between Democrats in Adams and Republicans in Weld,” prognosticator J. Miles Coleman told the Colorado Sun in November, referring to two counties.

“Given the district’s large Hispanic population, I’m interested to see how that vote breaks down next year. Probably more importantly, it could be a test ground for both parties’ outreach to minorities.”

For more on this district, NPR has this great primer.

— Perhaps no other state has fueled the narrative that Latinxs are shifting to the right more so than my native Texas, a storyline that emerged after Donald Trump made gains with voters living in predominantly Mexican American border counties in the 2020 presidential election. For a snapshot of conservative voters in the region, I encourage you to read the latest by New York Times reporter and friend of the newsletter Jennifer Medina, as well as this report by CNN’s Maeve Reston and Nicole Chavez, which not only presents a region at a political crossroads, but also explains how the Republican outreach in South Texas has a Latina face.


So, is the South Texas electorate moving to the right? Maybe, but based on the results of Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for the Texas 28th Congressional District, the argument could be made that the shift is actually to the left. Incumbent Congressman Henry Cuellar — one of the most conservative Democrats in the House — will head to a runoff for the first time in his career after failing to secure 50% of the vote. His opponent, Jessica Cisneros, is an immigration attorney who ran on a progressive platform and received the endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Things we read this week that we think you should read

— Emily Alvarenga of our sister paper the San Diego Union-Tribune has this profile of Antonio Chavez Camarillo, who for four decades was the unofficial groundskeeper of Chicano Park. A makeshift memorial was set up by community members to honor a man simply known as “Tío.”

“Nobody was more present at Chicano Park than he was,” said Enrique Morones, a local activist.

— NBC News’ Max Gao reports that ABC drama “Promised Land” has moved to Hulu from its prime-time spot on ABC because of a lack of viewers. Will this be yet another Latinx show headed for cancellation?

— My colleagues Ron Lin and Luke Money report that a data analysis conducted by Los Angeles County public health officials found that residents of poorer and largely Black and Latinx neighborhoods were disproportionately hit hard by COVID-19. In short, it matters where you live.

This part of their story stood out to me in particular:

The differing effects of COVID-19 on Black and brown communities, as well as low-income areas, probably helps explain the dynamics on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which has been divided over how quickly to lift the indoor mask mandate in the nation’s most populous county.


Of the five supervisors, Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell — the sole Latina and Black representatives, respectively — have in recent weeks backed efforts to keep the county’s mask mandate in place for a few weeks longer, and have routinely voiced concerns about the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on their constituents. Solis and Mitchell were elected from districts that have the highest poverty rates and lowest median household income, according to an analysis published by the L.A. County Economic Development Corp. in 2017.

In an op-ed published by the L.A. Times, social psychologist Michael Kraus writes that Americans acknowledge that racial inequality exists but are also willfully ignorant of its extent.

And now, for something a little different...

An illustration of a woman and girl at a table painting and drinking tea
The art of drinking maté
(Vivi Maidanik / For The Times)

Vivi Maidanik is an illustrator and graphic designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduating with a degree in graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires (where she taught the drawing course for two years), she fell in love with illustration and studied in Buenos Aires and Barcelona.

Maidanik has illustrated for books, magazines and textiles in Argentina, Australia, Chile, Canada and the U.K. Her everyday inspiration comes from nature, social issues and stories she reads, writes or imagines.

“When I was a child, I used to spend my Sunday afternoons drawing and painting with my grandma, she had been a fashion designer and an artist when she was younger. I learned a lot about her life and my family’s stories and journeys from Eastern Europe to Argentina. She taught me about art and the art of drinking maté, a traditional South American infused drink. To this day, I cannot start drawing without my maté by my side.”


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