Hispanic Ohioans

From Ohio History Central

Numerous Ohioans are Hispanics or Latinos.  Today, these Ohioans continue to enhance Ohio’s cultural and social landscape.  During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, millions of immigrants migrated to the United States of America, hoping to live the American Dream.  Early immigrants arrived from European countries and soon Hispanics from Central or South America and Spain came to find a new home and begin a new life. Very few migrants arrived from Hispanic nations at first, but for over a century, the Hispanic Latino population has grown progressively and has emerged as an influential component of Ohio’s economic sector. 

The United States Census Bureau defines Hispanic as a person whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, the Dominican Republic, or people identifying themselves generally as such. Origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic may be of any race.

In 1860, 328,249 immigrants lived in Ohio.  These people accounted for 14% of the state’s population.  By 1900, the number of immigrants in Ohio rose to 456,734.  Only a few Hispanics resided in major cities of Ohio, including Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus; these Hispanics found paying jobs in factories and as other laborers, commonly working in agriculture.  Other immigrants established businesses that supplied traditional Hispanic products to the growing population.

A surge in Hispanic immigration to the United States occurred beginning in the 1960s.  Most immigrants came from Central and South America, hoping for more economic opportunity.  By 1980 there were over 120,000 Hispanics in Ohio.  The Hispanic communities grew exponentially in Ohio’s urban areas of Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Latin-American debit crisis of the 1980s, coupled with economic instability in the 1990s, probably led to this increase. By 2006, nearly 264,000 Ohioans claimed to be of Hispanic lineage.  This number amounted to 2.3% of Ohio’s entire population. 

According to the 2010 Census, Ohio’s Hispanic community is comprised of more than 350,000 people, accounting for 3.1% of the state’s total population. This number represents a 63.4% increase since 2000 and a tripling of the Hispanic population since 1980. The census also states that 50%  of Hispanic Ohioans identify themselves as being of Mexican ancestry. 76,000 Hispanic people in Ohio were born outside of the United States and many have made efforts to become citizens.

As Ohio’s Hispanic population increases, numerous institutions have formed to support emerging Latino communities.  The Ohio Hispanic Coalition and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Ohio are two prime examples created to assist Ohio’s Latino populace.  The Ohio government established the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs to advise state officials on Latino interests, needs, and programs.  Hispanic Ohioans, through their businesses, employment, and culture have dramatically enhanced the state’s landscape.  Their heritage and culture is celebrated during annual festivals throughout the state.

In Ohio, there are 9,700 Hispanic-owned businesses. The income from these businesses is around $2 billion.  The businesses are in the restaurant and specialty store sector, construction firms sector, health care and social assistance sector, and Hispanic owned firms such as real estate rental, leasing and retail firms.  There are more than 143,000 Hispanic Ohioans in the work force.  

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