Capital Gazette Communications
Anne Arundel County’s Hispanic population is booming.
One of several revelations in yesterday’s data released by the U.S. Census was that Hispanics and Latinos account for more than 40 percent of Anne Arundel’s population growth over the last decade. The Hispanic population more than doubled since 2000, with an additional 20,000 people. With the increase, Hispanics make up 6.1 percent of the county’s 537,656 residents.
The new census figures show Anne Arundel County grew by 48,000 people over the past decade, a rate slightly higher than the state average.
Anne Arundel now has 32,902 Hispanics. Yet the county remains overwhelmingly white, with whites accounting for 75 percent of the population. African Americans make up 15.5 percent and Asians 3.4 percent.
The 9.8 percent growth keeps Anne Arundel the fourth most populous county in Maryland, behind Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties. The most dramatic growth in Maryland centered in southern counties; the populations of the relatively rural St. Mary’s and Charles counties jumped by more than 20 percent.
County Executive John R. Leopold predicted that Anne Arundel’s growth would continue to intensify in west county, as new jobs arrive near Fort George G. Meade. He said that between the Base Realignment and Closure process and the opening of the headquarters of the new U.S. Cyber Command there, the county expects an additional 22,000 people by the end of next year.
The city of Annapolis, meanwhile, grew by a more modest 7.1 percent, to 38,394.
“We had a quite a bit of redevelopment,” said Jon Arason, the city’s planning director. “We lost the hospital, but we gained Acton’s Landing. Park Place was built. 1901 West was built.”
While Annapolis remains Maryland’s seventh most populous city, its population has become significantly more diverse. The Hispanic population jumped from 1.9 percent to 16.8 percent of city residents of the past decade.
The population boom has been accompanied by a jump in entrepreneurship, said Natalie Villabon-Martz, executive director of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“In business, we’ve seen a surge in the number of Hispanic-owned businesses,” Villabon-Martz said. “A lot of Hispanics seek opportunity, whether it’s in business or in a job or in education for their children. If we see a shot to succeed, we’re going to take it.”
Census officials said some of the change in Hispanic populations across the country could be attributed to differences in the way the census asked people to identify their race.
In the city, minorities make up 40 percent of the population. While the majority of the city is white, 26 percent is black and 2 percent Asian.
The data released yesterday was first released to lawmakers, who will redraw congressional, state and county legislative districts across Maryland. The historically contentious and political process is expected to get under way this summer.
Officials have waited expectantly for the newest census numbers, since the data will be used to calculate how much federal aid jurisdictions receive.
But Leopold has said that the county’s population jump won’t significantly affect its financial shortfall.
Since yesterday’s data were intended to help create new legislative districts, the numbers lack many of the details planners use to create portraits of neighborhoods, said Virginia Burke, chief of comprehensive planning for Annapolis.
“The fine-grain data come later,” she said.
Statewide, the preliminary data also show a relative decline in people who identify as white, while the African-American population grew by 15 percent and the Asian population grew by 51 percent. Whites still make up the largest portion of Maryland, representing 58 percent of the population, with African Americans representing 29.4 percent and Asians 5.5 percent.
Across the state, the data show 4.3 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, a 106.5 percent increase since 2000.