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Census Reports on Linguistic Isolation in U.S.

Nationwide and state data available


The U.S. Census Bureau has released nationwide and state-level data from Census 2000 on who does and does not speak English in the United States. The data, broken down by type of household, age of householder, education and income, details a phenomenon the Census Bureau calls “linguistic isolation.”

The Census Bureau defines a linguistically isolated household as on in which no one 14 years old and over speaks only English or speaks a non-English language and speaks English "very well." In other words, all members of the household 14 years old and over have at least some difficulty with English.

Some national-level highlights from the collection of tables titled “America Speaks: A Demographic Profile of Foreign-Language Speakers for the United States: 2000,” include:

  • Out of 97,454,100 total U.S. households, a language other than English was spoken in 14,005,410, of which 3,026,542 households were classified as linguistically isolated.

  • Among households with combined annual incomes of $15,000 or less, 1,068,734 were linguistically isolated, compared to only 105,871 households with incomes of $100,000 or more.

  • In 2,110,214 of the total 3,026,542 households classified as linguistically isolated, the head of the household was a native-born American, compared to 916,328 in which the head of the household was foreign-born.

Nearly 1-in-5 Speak Foreign Language at Home
In data released earlier, Census 2000 showed that nearly 47 million people -- about 1-in-5 U.S. residents -- age 5 and older, reported regularly speaking a foreign language at home. That figure represented an increase of 15 million people since the 1990 census. [More details...]

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