AUGUST 4, 2006 - Posted at 8:05 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - New federal Census Bureau figures show Hispanics now comprise 4.7 percent of Arkansas' population.
The new population estimates released by the agency Friday show a much faster rate of growth among the state's Hispanic population than for the state population as a whole.
The new estimate puts the Arkansas population at 2.78 million, a rise of four percent from the 2000 census. But during the same period, the agency says the Hispanic population in Arkansas grew by 51 percent to 130,846.
The figures show that from 2000 to 2005, Benton County's Hispanic population grew by 78 percent, from 13,469 to 23,996. In Washington County, the Hispanic population grew by 73 percent, from 12,932 to 22,415 in the same period.
Most counties in the impoverished Delta region of east Arkansas lost population between 2000 and 2005. They experienced far smaller increases in Hispanic population, and some experienced a decline. The new figures estimate that Phillips County's Hispanic population dropped to 364 last year from 382 in 2000.