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Inland Empire had nation's largest influx of Latinos in last decade, study finds

May 10, 2010 |  8:05 am


A new study has found that the Inland Empire had the largest increase in Latino population of any metropolitan region in the nation during the last decade.

The Brookings Institute study is the latest to underscore the dramatic demographic trends occurring in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which saw significant growth in the last decade.

An examination of census data last year found that the construction boom of the early 2000s helped fuel the increase in Latino population. As hundreds of thousands of immigrants chased construction and service jobs and the chance to own a home in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the region's Latino population soared. Latinos were one-quarter of Riverside County's population in the 1990 census, for example, and 43% by 2007.

The Brookings study found that between 2000 to 2008, more than 630,000 new Latino residents were added to the two counties. The region also saw a significant loss of white residents during the same period, the study found.

Alan Berube, research director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program told the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which first reported the study, that the demographic shift was creating a "cultural generation gap." 

From 2000 to 2007, the number of immigrants in San Bernardino and Riverside counties grew 55%, from 490,946 to 761,629, a Public Policy Institute study found. Despite being far larger at 3.5 million, the immigrant population in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area grew by just 161,000, or 4.6%, in the same period.

The studies didn't fully consider the more recent economic downturn in the region.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: A subdivision in San Bernardino. Credit: Los Angeles Times