Published September 15, 2012
It's been a year to remember for Latinos in the United States. Now it's time to celebrate and reflect.
Latinos are growing in power and influence. Census numbers show Latinos are the nation's largest minority population, moving front and center in U.S. political discourse, innovation, and pop culture.
Hispanics have become a potent force in virtually every dimension of U.S. life.
At 52 million, they now comprise more than 16 percent of the nation's total population, making them the largest ethnic or race minority in the United States. They account for a large percentage of new small business owners, generating roughly $351 billion in receipts annually. This year, Latinos had unprecedented prominence in both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
A Latina topped the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of the most powerful people in entertainment. Jennifer Lopez, who came in at No. 50 last year, soared to the top of the heap, with her estimated income of $52 million. The magazine said she was "the nation’s hottest and most sought after celebrity" -- the result of "smart positioning and whole lot of hustle."
For the first time, a Latino came very close to being vice president on a presidential ticket -- in the end, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio didn't walk away with the prize, but was chosen for the primetime job of introducing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the party's convention. The Democrats picked a Latino keynote speaker for the first time in their history -- San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, mentioned as a possible future U.S. president.
Latinos enjoyed key roles on television -- Cristina Aguilera is a judge on "The Voice," Ricky Martin guess-starred on "Glee," Gloria Estefan is a mentor on "The Next," a singing competition, Demi Lovato is a judge on "The X Factor." They also made their mark on Broadway; Ricky Martin, for instance, is starring in "Evita."
Sofia Vergara is on Hollywood's A-List, starring in the popular television comedy "Modern Family."
And thousands of Latinos are making their mark in other ways, out of the spotlight.
Here are Census Bureau facts about Latinos:
132.8 million: The projected Hispanic population of the United States in 2050. If the projection holds true, Hispanics will be 30 percent of the nation's population at that time.
2nd: Ranking worldwide of the size of people in the United States who have origins in a Spanish-speaking country. Only Mexico, with 112 million resident, had a larger such population than the United States.
63 percent: The percentage of Hispanics who were of Mexican background in 2010.
More than 50 percent: The percentage of the U.S. Hispanic population that lives in California, Florida, and Texas as of July 2011.
46.7 percent: The percentage of New Mexico's population that was Hispanic as of July, 2011, the highest of any state.
4.7 million: The Hispanic population of Los Angeles County in 2010, the highest of any county in the United States.
97 percent: The percentage of East Los Angeles's population that was Hispanic as of 2010.
82: The number of the nation's 3,143 counties that were majority-Hispanic.
25: Number of states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group.
2.3 million: The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 43.6 percent from 2002.
$350.7 billion: Receipts generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 58 percent from 2002.