Colorful murals line Plaza Roberto Maestas on Seattle’s Beacon Hill. One in 10 people in the region now identifies as Hispanic or Latinx.

Celebrating Hispanic and Latinx heritage in the region

New census data sheds light on this population’s growth.

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month.

This year, with brand new census data available, PSRC takes a fresh look at what the numbers tell us about people in the region who identify as Hispanic or Latinx.

There are 474,660 people with this heritage in central Puget Sound—about one in 10 (11%). The Census Bureau asks people about Hispanic/Latinx identity separately from race, so it’s possible to be a member of any racial group and also be Hispanic/Latinx.

Census data show tremendous growth in this group over the last decade. The region gained nearly 150,000 residents who identify as Hispanic or Latinx.

The Hispanic/Latinx population increased 46% from 2010 to 2020, while the non-Hispanic population grew 13%.

Pierce and Snohomish counties surpassed King County with the largest proportion of Hispanic/Latinx residents. In both counties, the population share rose from 9% to 12%. King County had the greatest overall increase, adding 70,600 people of Hispanic/Latinx ancestry.

Why has there been such a big jump in the Hispanic and Latinx population?

It’s complicated.

The increase can come from regular demographic shifts, like more births than deaths and more people moving to than from the region.

Another reason for the growth may be that the Census Bureau has changed the way it’s asked race and ethnicity questions over the years.

It may also be that people see themselves differently now. As NPR recently reported, people who checked the non-Hispanic white box in prior census years might be more willing to identify as Hispanic/Latinx or multiracial now as views on diversity have shifted.

Even the names for this racial/ethnic category are under debate since they cover such a diverse group of people from around the globe.

PSRC pulled data from census tracts around the region to see what parts of central Puget Sound have the most Hispanic/Latinx people. Census tracts near Lynnwood, Burien, Renton, Kent, and Tacoma stand out as having high numbers of people who identify as Hispanic or Latinx. A census tract near Auburn and Algona has by far the largest Hispanic/Latinx population of any tract (3,940 in 2020, up from 2,160 in 2010).

Hispanic/Latinx Populations Around the Region

Source: 2020 Census Redistricting Data File, table P0020002

The 2020 Census and American Community Survey provide a rich trove of demographic information about the region’s residents.

Check back on this blog later this month as we explore income, age and other data about people in the region with Hispanic and Latinx ancestry.