Texas has reached a significant demographic milestone as Latinos now constitute the largest share of the state’s population, surpassing non-Hispanic white residents.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s updated population estimates confirm that as of July 2022, Latinos accounted for 40.2% of Texas’ population, narrowly surpassing the 39.8% share held by non-Hispanic whites. This landmark moment reflects the culmination of decades of transformative growth, with the state experiencing a population boom driven by people of color, particularly Latinos.
Texas had a white majority until 2004 when their share of the population dropped below 50%. Since then, people of color, particularly Latinos, have been the driving force behind the state’s population gains.
According to The Texas Tribune, the diversity brought by this growth has transformed previously predominantly white areas, resulting in changes in classrooms, workforces, and communities. Recent census estimates indicate that 49.3% of Texans under 18 are Hispanic, and it has been more than a decade since Hispanic students constituted the majority in Texas public schools.
Despite the significant demographic transformation, Texas continues to witness enduring disparities among its Hispanic population. Economic and political gains have not kept pace with population growth, as Hispanics in Texas face disproportionate poverty rates and lower levels of educational attainment.
Hispanic Texans are more than twice as likely as white Texans to live below the poverty level and are significantly less likely to have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educational disparities and income gaps persist, indicating that the state has not experienced substantial progress since the era of institutionalized discrimination.
Recent estimates show 95% of white adults in Texas have at least a high school diploma, compared with only 70% of Hispanic adults. Hispanics are just as far back on income: The median income in 2021 was $81,384 for a white household but just $54,857 for a Hispanic household, as reported by The Texas Tribune.
As Texas becomes increasingly multicultural, tracking its population through precise racial and ethnic categories becomes more challenging. Nevertheless, policymakers are stressing the need to focus on the state’s Latino growth, considering the close correlation between opportunity, life outcomes, and identity for Texans of color.
Recent legislative sessions have raised concerns among legislators regarding potential harm to Latinos, including efforts to restrict the teaching of current events and the history of racism in schools, redrawing political maps that undermine voters of color, and banning diversity and inclusion offices in public universities.