Latino community on the rise

The news: Latinos have surpassed African Americans as the largest minority group in Illinois, according to new estimates in the 2010 Census.

Behind the news: Latinos could become Chicago’s largest racial or ethnic group by the year 2020, if growth trends from the previous decade are repeated between 2010 and 2020, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by The Chicago Reporter. At the same time, Latinos could surpass black people as the largest minority group in Cook County.

Since the 1980 Census, the population of black and white people in Cook County has shrunk 5.5 percent and 44 percent, respectively, as the overall population of the county is also shrinking. Conversely, the Latino population in the county increased 60 percent.

Within Chicago’s city limits, the numbers are even starker. Since 1980, the population of black and white people has dropped 54 percent and 36 percent, respectively, as the number of Latinos living in the city has grown 46 percent.

Chicago’s current racial split is 32.4 percent black, 31.7 percent white and 28.9 percent Latino.

Lillia Fernandez, a professor at Ohio State University, has written extensively on Latino migration in Chicago. “We’re experiencing another large-wave migration,” shesaid. “They come for much the same reasons, jobs and opportunity, as Chicago has long been a center for manufacturing and service jobs.”

Will the growing Latino population equate to increased political influence? Not if the recent mayoral election turnout is any indication. Majority-Latino wards tied with majority-black wards for having had the lowest turnout, with just 38 percent of voters showing up at the polls.

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