More U.S. Latinos Are Speaking English, Share Who Speak Spanish Falls

An analysis by the Pew Research Center found that as English proficiency among U.S. Latino grows, the share who speak Spanish at home is dropping. The shift is driven by a rise in U.S. born Latinos and decline in Latin American immigrants.

As English proficiency rises among U.S. Latinos, the percentage who speak Spanish at home is on the decline, a new analysis found.

Pew Research Center found that in 2013 about 73% of Latinos ages 5 and older said they speak Spanish at home, down from 78% in 2000. Still a record 35.8 million Latinos speak Spanish at home, a figure that's continued to increase as the nation's Hispanic population grows.

At the same time the number of Latinos in the U.S. who speak English proficiently rose to about 33.2 million in the last 13 years. In 2013, this group made up 68% of all Latinos ages 5 and older, a boost from 59% in 2000.

The drop in Spanish-speakers is fueled by the changing Latino landscape in the United States, researchers said. The number of U.S.-born Latinos has continued to rise amid a decrease in immigrants from Latin America.

U.S.-born Latinos outnumbered their foreign-born counterparts in 2013 by nearly two-to-one, or 35 million to 19 million, according to the analysis. Latinos born in the U.S. make up 65% of the country's Hispanic population and are much younger with a median age of 19 years compared with 40 among immigrant Latinos.

Since 2000 the growth in the nation's Latino population has been driven primarily by U.S. births rather than new immigrants, the Pew Research Center said.

Researchers also found that 89% of U.S.-born Latinos spoke English proficiently in 2013, up from 72% in 1980 due in part to the growing number of them who live in homes where only English is spoken.

The share of foreign-born Latinos who speak English proficiently has hardly changed since 1980, though the number has grown. In 2013, 34% of foreign-born Latinos were efficient English-speakers, numbering 6.5 million. In 1980 that share was 31% and numbered 1.3 million.