The Hispanic population in the United States surpassed 50 million and accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in total population over the last decade, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
The Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, rising from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010. The group makes up 16 percent of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million.
With a slight drop in the black population in Illinois, of less than one percent, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the state. The Hispanic population grew by more than 32 percent, now accounting for nearly 16 percent of Illinois' population, compared to 14.5 percent of blacks. The white population growth was just a blip, at less than 1 percent. Whites now represent about 72 percent of the population.
Missouri saw its black population increase by 10 percent in the past decade, compared with a 4 percent growth in whites. The Hispanic population grew by 79 percent, but it still accounts for just 3.5 of the total state population.
The Hispanic growth nationwide in the last decade is due more to birth than to immigration, said D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer at the Pew Research Center.
"In the adult population, many immigrants helped the increase, but the child population is increasingly more Hispanic," Cohn said.
In 2010, Hispanics made up 23 percent of people under the age 18, which rose from 17 percent in 2000. In California, 51 percent of children are Hispanic, up from 44 percent in 2000.
About three-quarters of Hispanics now live in the nine states that have long-standing Hispanic populations, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Texas.
That figure is down from 81 percent in 2000, indicating the population has begun dispersing to other parts of the country, particularly in the Southeast, Cohn said.
The Hispanic population more than doubled in Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina and North Carolina.
"This is a sign that the Hispanic population is spreading out more widely than in the past," Cohn said. "You now see Hispanic communities in many places that hadn't had them a decade or two ago."
The population growth among Hispanics also kept the population steady in states that would have shown a decline or no growth, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana.
The non-Hispanic population grew at a slower pace in the past decade, at about 5 percent. Within that population, those who reported their race as only white grew by 1 percent.
While the population of those who reported as only white grew in number in that time, from 196.6 million to 196.8 million, its proportion of the total U.S. population declined from 69 percent to 64 percent.
A 2008 Census Bureau projection estimated that ethnic and racial minorities will become the majority in the United States by 2050 and that about one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic by then.
Doug Moore of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.