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New data shows increase in Hispanic population Monday, October 3, 2005
Claudia Torrens 508-626-3976 Metrowest Daily News
Population in certain area towns has declined over the last four years, but the number of Hispanic or Latinos across Middlesex County has significantly jumped.

The area has gone from having 66,707 Hispanics or Latinos in 2000 to 69,313 in 2004, according to the 2004 American Community Survey.  Asian population has also increased, as the county has at least 12,368 more Asians now than in 2000.

"They are still coming because the area offers service jobs; jobs in the restaurant and retail business that use this pool of workers," said Laura Medrano, director of the MetroWest Latin American Center.  "At the same time, many Hispanics and Latinos don't buy homes, they rent and MetroWest has a big stock of rental units."

In Norfolk County, Hispanics or Latinos have increased by 1,886 over the last four years.  In Worcester County, the number is dramatically higher, with 6,339 more since 2000.

The state seems to be following a national trend.

As of July 2004, the United States has an estimated Hispanic population of 41.3 million, which makes it the largest race or ethnic minority in the country, according to the Census Bureau.  One of every two people added to the nation's population between July 1, 2003 and July 1, 2004 were Hispanic.

The increase on immigration numbers in Middlesex County is good news for Ted Welte, president of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce.

"Without immigrants we would have been in a difficult time keeping it up with the economy," said Welte this week.

With more young people choosing not to settle in MetroWest because of escalating housing costs, immigrants can create a balance, he said.

Although Brazilians represent an important percentage of MetroWest's immigrant population, the Census Bureau does not count them as included in the Hispanic or Latino category.  Census data shows there are 20,329 Brazilians in Middlesex County in 2004, but civic organizations have said that could be the figure only for Framingham's Brazilian population.

Many illegal immigrants do not respond to Census Bureau requests of information to avoid being tracked by the government.  Others respond by saying they do not have Hispanic or Brazilian ancestors or just choose the "other" option when asked to which ethnic group they belong.

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