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WASHINGTON, March 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Latinos accounted for more than half (56%) of the nation's population growth during the last ten years, according to a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund analysis of newly released Census 2010 data.  

Between 2000 and 2010, while the nation's overall population grew 10% from 281 million to 309 million, the Latino population jumped 43% from 35.3 million to 50.5 million.  Latinos are the country's fastest-growing and second-largest population group, representing 16% of the population.

"The data suggest the Latino community placed a high priority on being counted and on being full participants in the American political process," said NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas. "There is no doubt we will continue to make vital contributions to the nation's economic and civil life."

The data reveal that slightly more than half of the states (26) have Latino populations of at least 300,000, and 76% of the nation's Latinos live in nine states, including New Mexico (47%), California (38%), Arizona (30%) and Texas (38%).

"The growth of the Latino community offers a great opportunity to strengthen our nation," said NALEO President and former Harris County (TX) Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia. "As leaders and decision makers, we must remain committed to ensuring all Latinos become full participants in the American political process. That means being at the forefront of naturalization and non-partisan get-out-the-vote efforts. These numbers show we are and will be an integral part of this great nation."

The data also show significant Latino populations in several areas of the country, including the South, Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. Latinos are at least 8% of the residents in 26 states and the District of Columbia, and comprise at least 40% of the population in 44 congressional districts.

All of the nation's 10 largest counties have a considerable number of Hispanic residents, including Los Angeles County (48%), Dallas County (39%) and Miami-Dade County (65%).  Additionally, the Hispanic population is considerably younger than its non-Hispanic counterparts, with 34% of Hispanics under 18, compared to 22% for non-Hispanics.

"Hispanics represent a major part of the future of our country and a significant factor in the future economic growth of this nation," said NALEO Educational Fund Chairman and former Florida State Representative Juan C. Zapata. "The numbers show the widespread presence of Hispanics in our country, and we have to make sure our economic and state policies ensure our community's continued success."

(Click here to view the NALEO Educational Fund 2010 United States Census Profile)

About NALEO Educational Fund

The NALEO Educational Fund is the nation's leading non-partisan, non-profit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.

Contact:  Patricia Guadalupe (202) 546-2536
pguadalupe@naleo.org

SOURCE NALEO Educational Fund