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Chicago’s Latino population spreads out, Census shows

Latinos are the second largest racial group in the city of Chicago, in Cook County, and in the State of Illinois.

Fernanda, izquierda, con la ayuda de Margarita Marquez decoran su vehículo que manejará en la caravana por La Villita para promover el censo.
The Trump administration attempted to politicize the census, including by threatening to ask a citizenship question, an effort that did not materialize. And outreach efforts were undermined by an unprecedented pandemic that disproportionately hit Latinos.
Tyler LaRiviere

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Chicago’s Latino population saw more growth, according to the 2020 Census, than the previous decade, while the racial ethnic group is also increasing in the collar counties.

Currently, Latinos are the second largest racial ethnic group in the city of Chicago, in Cook County, and in the State of Illinois.

In Chicago, Latinos grew by 40,656 people since 2010. Some predominantly-Latino neighborhoods that continued to grow are Chicago Lawn, which gained 7,808 Latinos or 31 percent; Back of the Yards, which grew by 4,062 Latinos or almost 16 percent; and West Lawn, which gained 2,709 Latinos or 10 percent, all in the Southwest Side.

But a handful of traditionally-Latino neighborhoods across the city, some of which are going through gentrification, also showed a declining Latino population. Among them, McKinley Park lost 6,704 Latinos (or 42 percent) since 2010, Logan Square lost 11,244 Latinos (30 percent), Avondale lost 6,3270 Latinos (25 percent), Pilsen lost 5,512 Latinos (about 19 percent), South Chicago lost 1,033 Latinos (15 percent), and Albany Park lost 2,799 Latinos (close to 11 percent).

Some of the largest gains of Latino residents in Chicago actually happened in traditionally Black neighborhoods that are experiencing a pattern of outmigration. On the West Side, Austin’s population grew by 9,868 Latinos (a 113 percent increase) since 2010, and North Lawndale gained 1,903 Latinos (a growth of about 89 percent).

On the South Side, West Englewood gained 5,058 Latinos (a 653 percent increase) since 2010, and Englewood gained 1,280 Latinos (about 394 percent). A Sun-Times analysis in September found Englewood’s overall population fell by more than 20 percent, from 30,654 to 24,369 residents, and West Englewood’s population fell 16 percent, from 35,505 to 29,647 residents.

Latinos’ growth also happened in neighborhoods that have lost white residents. In the Northwest Side, Dunning gained 5,043 Latinos (50 percent) since 2010, and in the Southwest Side, Garfield Ridge gained 5,573 Latinos (41 percent), while Clearing gained 3,987 Latinos (38 percent).

A few historically Latino communities remained relatively steady over the last decade, such as Belmont Cragin, Little Village, Humboldt Park, and East Side.

“In the nation and in Illinois, we know that there was probably a significant Latino undercount,” said Sylvia Puente, president and CEO of the Latino Policy Forum, which held its own get-out-the-count campaign in the region. “We don’t know how much it is, but we know that it’s probably higher than in past years.”

The Trump administration attempted to politicize the census, including by threatening to ask a citizenship question, an effort that did not materialize. And outreach efforts were undermined by an unprecedented pandemic that disproportionately hit Latinos.

Latinos are 18% of the state population with 2,337,410 inhabitants. Illinois ranks fifth in Latino population nationwide, behind a few Southwestern states and Florida.

“In Illinois, while Latinos are 18.2% of the state population — a remarkable parallel to the national share of the Latino population — Latino youth are 25% of Illinois’ children and youth, also a parallel . . . Illinois’ population really mirrors the national demographics of the nation,” said Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO Educational Fund during a virtual panel by the Latino Policy Forum.

U.S.-born Latinos are causing the majority of the growth, as migration from Mexico and other countries has slowed down due to various factors, including a lack of jobs, the rising cost of living, and increased immigration enforcement.

Cook County has 138,106 more Latinos compared to the last decade. Growing trends are also seen in Lake and Will counties.

“This has implications for a myriad of issues, including redistricting. Not only do we have the issue of state legislatures and commissions drawing congressional and other lines to the detriment of Latinos . . .You add to that the fact that the data itself may be flawed because it does not fully account for all Latinos. That just makes it even more difficult to translate our numbers into true political representation,” Vargas said.

Puente highlighted the need for local and state legislatures to invest in small business development, mental health counseling, digital learning for youth and more cash assistance for families who are in crisis as a result of the pandemic.