There is a quiet demographic revolution in North Carolina, but it won’t be quiet for long.
In a recent blog post, Rebecca Tippett of Carolina Demography at UNC noted that the 2020 census confirmed a milestone: “North Carolina’s Hispanic population is now over one million people.
This means that one in 10 Tar Heels is Hispanic. And the number reported – 1,118,596 – is likely an undercount.
In 1990, the state’s Hispanic population was only 75,000. The number grew rapidly over the next 20 years and between 2010 and 2020 it increased by almost 320,000 – the largest increase of any racial / ethnic group in the state. It is expected to increase by another 300,000 by 2030.
Hispanics are almost without a political voice in the state. Of the 170 members of the North Carolina General Assembly, only one is Hispanic, Democrat Ricky Hurtado of Alamance County.
But that alien status is changing as roughly 60% of the Hispanic population was born in the United States and reached political age.
While their numbers are concentrated in the Triangle and Mecklenburg County, Hispanics are also becoming a larger voting bloc in rural areas, where they are essential to the workforce in the meat packing industries. and agriculture.
Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, executive director of the Association of Mexicans of North Carolina (AMEXCAN), said an influx of young Hispanics is saving some rural towns that have otherwise aging and declining populations. In North Carolina, the median age of Hispanics is 25. The median age of non-Hispanic whites is 44.
“If it weren’t for the Latino community, some small towns would disappear,” said Rocha-Peralta.
Hispanic leaders point out that many Hispanics – or Latinos, a narrower term describing people of Latin American descent – are seen to favor Democrats, but they come from different countries and have political views ranging from liberal to conservative.
Ivan Parra, executive director of the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations, a statewide network of 70 groups, said, “It’s important for Democrats and Republicans to think about their relationships with (Hispanics) because no one can take their support for granted.
“This state is still very purple,” Parra said. “Its future, in competitive elections, will be decided by the Latin vote. “
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