Number of Hispanics skyrockets in South Carolina

Aiken County leads area in group's 10-year growth

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South Carolina's population grew by 15.3 percent during the past 10 years, but its Hispanic population grew 148 percent.

In Aiken County, that trend was even more pronounced, with a 158 percent increase in the number of Hispanics. Overall the county's population grew 12.3 percent during the decade.

The 2010 Census figures for South Carolina, released Wednesday, confirmed expectations of strong growth. But the 10-year change in its Hispanic population stunned researchers.

"I knew Hispanics as a demographic were up, but this is almost 150 percent," said Jerry Mitchell, a cultural geographer at the University of South Carolina.

Despite the sharp increase, Hispanics still make up only 5.1 percent of South Carolina's total population. In 2000, they accounted for 2.4 percent.

The state's total population is now 4,625,364. Aiken County's population is 160,099.

Mitchell said South Carolina's forestry, peach and poultry industries have attracted Hispanic migrant workers. In some cases they've changed rural community demographics.

"You have a low-wage work force available," Mitchell said. "You can drive into these small towns and see where some of the old boarded-up stores have been turned into Hispanic churches."

The growth in Hispanics doesn't mean illegal immigration has risen, though.

Elaine Lacy, a USC Aiken history professor who has studied Latin immigration in the Southeast, said her research shows many illegal immigrants left South Carolina in recent years because of the recession and the state's rigid immigration law, passed in 2008.

"This growth represents children born to people who were already here," Lacy said. "Hispanics have a high birthrate."

Also, Hispanics have been undercounted in the past because of high mobility, language barriers and mistrust of the process, she said.

Hispanic groups raised awareness of the need to be counted in 2010.

Hispanics living in Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Edgefield, Hampton, McCormick and Saluda counties came for many of the same reasons as elsewhere in the state. But Aiken County had one extra draw.

"Aiken County has one of South Carolina's oldest Hispanic populations," Lacy said. "The first Latino families came in the 1980s as undocumented immigrants. They came with the horses."

The immigrants worked as trainers and groomers during the rise of the equestrian industry. They were part of the 2 million illegal immigrants who were granted amnesty across the U.S. in 1986, she said.

Other counties bordering the Savannah River saw their populations grow by less than 10 percent or experienced population losses.

South Carolina's largest gains came along the coast and in some northern counties.

Aiken County's 12.3 percent growth seems anomalous in comparison with its neighbors, but Mitchell saw a pattern.

"There's an interstate highway running through it," he said. "South Carolina is becoming a major hub for distribution centers ... and transportation is driving a lot of this type of growth."

Hispanic growth in South Carolina
COUNTY/
POPULATION/
HISPANIC/
HISPANIC/
CHANGE
  POP. 2000POP. 2010 
Greenville451,22514,28336,495155.51% 
Richland384,504   8,713 18,637 113.90%
 Charleston 350,209 7,434 18,877 153.93%
 Spartanburg 284,307 7,081 16,658 135.25%
 Horry County 269,291 5,057 16,683 229.90%
 Lexington 262,391 4,146 14,529 250.43%
 York 226,073 3,220 10,075 212.89%
 Anderson 187,126 1,832 5,447 197.33%
 Berkeley 177,843 3,935 10,755 173.32%
 Beaufort 162,233 8,208 19,567 138.39%
 Aiken 160,099 3,025 7,824 158.64%
 Florence 136,885 1,383 3,030 119.09%
Comments (10) Add comment
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yakirz
9
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yakirz 03/24/11 - 01:15 am
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Sounds good to me.
Unpublished

Sounds good to me. Diversity's a good thing. The one thing I could do without is missionaries trying to convert Catholics into evangelists. I don't like that at all.

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 03/24/11 - 05:19 am
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Hispanics have a high birth

Hispanics have a high birth rate? Can anyone say "anchor babies"? Just because there are more than 14,000 more hispanics in S.C. per year does NOT mean there are more illegal immigrants. And just because droplets of water are falling from the sky does NOT mean it's raining.

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 03/24/11 - 05:53 am
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Could the high birth rate be

Could the high birth rate be because illegal immigrants KNOW that having a baby insures they will be allowed to remain in the U.S.? Of course not. We all know that economic times are so good that it is prudent to bring as many new citizens into the world as possible.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 03/24/11 - 07:43 am
0
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Could the high birth rate be

Could the high birth rate be because illegal immigrants KNOW that having a baby insures they will be allowed to remain in the U.S.? Of course not. We all know that economic times are so good that it is prudent to bring as many new citizens into the world as possible.

The sarcasm of this comment is just trival. When the europeans came in the late 1800's to early 1900's they did the same things and moved to the same regions. I bet there are tons of Irish, Italian, and German stories of immigrants getting into the country illegally and staying. Why make a big mess of it now? You want to complain about the illegal activities, what about the illicit alcohol ring of Italians in New York and Chicago during prohibition, that still lingers todays. Bigotry is so yesterday, or so they make it seem........

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 03/24/11 - 07:48 am
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You are only 200 years out of

You are only 200 years out of touch with reality.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 03/24/11 - 09:07 am
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If they are here legally.

If they are here legally. Fine. Welcome to the USA.

If not. Go home. Get out. They are criminals and they are breaking the law of the United States of America.

Did you hear in the news 2 days ago that a group of hispanic students in Arizona is refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school? Their reason is that they claim America stole the land and they want to reclaim it for Mexico. And we are paying for these kids to go to OUR schools.

burninater
9627
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burninater 03/24/11 - 03:16 pm
0
0
Uh-oh, they have suspicious

Uh-oh, they have suspicious suntans and funny accents ... everyone freak out!

Oh wait, those are Isle of Palms snowbirds, nevermind ...

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 03/24/11 - 03:48 pm
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burninator,which part of

burninator,which part of ILLEGAL do you not understand? Do you think murders and rapists should get a free pass also? How about bank robbers?

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 03/24/11 - 03:54 pm
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I guess as long as it's just

I guess as long as it's just minor laws,it's ok? How about I.D. theft? Driving w/o insurance? Driving w/o a valid license? Nonpayment of taxes? To be breaking these laws shows no respect for any laws. Yet you support illegal immigration for p/c sake. Typical

burninater
9627
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burninater 03/24/11 - 05:19 pm
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So now making a joke means

So now making a joke means you support illegal immigration? Somehow humorlessness makes it even harder to take some comments seriously.

usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 03/25/11 - 03:03 am
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onlysane one, the euro's you

onlysane one, the euro's you refer to came thru Ellis Island. They were screened before coming for how they would support themselves. They could have been turned away before departing.

Ellis Island further screened them for illnesses and recorded them. Kind of hard to relate that to today's illegal immigrants and the liberals who condone it.

Those immigrants came here and assimilated. We were a melting pot then.

Now, I believe the term is "salad bowl", is it not?

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