and their future offspring is tempered by their relatively low average earning capacity on arrival. Given the very substantial differences in earnings, education, English fluency, attitudes, and median age between foreign-born and native-born Hispanics, the economic and social repercussions of the generational transformation now under way will depend largely on social investments in U.S.-born Hispanics—the second and later generations—with the proviso that this upward mobility might increase competition with currently more educated segments of the labor force. Hence the amount of Hispanic upward mobility that can be expected from future educational investments may be uncertain, but a sustained presence in low-wage jobs in the absence of significant educational improvement is a virtual certainty.


Until recently, the U.S. Hispanic population was concentrated regionally in the southwest, primarily near the southern border with Mexico; in the northeast, most notably in the greater New York and Boston metropolitan areas; and after 1960, in southern Florida. California and Texas have served as both ports of entry and final destinations for Mexican immigrants, and since 1980, for El Salvadorians and Guatemalans. Central and South American immigrants have settled largely in Florida—where they have diluted the Cuban ethnic hegemony—and in New York and New Jersey. In 2000, 7 of every 10 Hispanics resided in these five states. Other important immigrant-receiving states include Arizona, New Mexico, and Illinois—where Mexican neighborhoods emerged in the 1920s, and Puerto Rican communities flourished after World War II.

While these states continue to attract and retain the bulk of new arrivals, many Hispanic immigrants are now choosing to settle in nontraditional destinations such as the cities of the deep south. Significant Hispanic settlement is also occurring in rural areas of the south and midwest.16 In fact, the state with the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the country is not California, nor is it Texas, Florida, Illinois, or New York; it is North Carolina. According to the Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in North Carolina grew five-fold during the 1990s—from 77,000 to 379,000, while that in Georgia quadrupled, and that in Nevada tripled.

In addition, areas once considered “capital cities” for immigrants from just one or two countries are witnessing ethnic diversification as various Hispanic subgroups vie for economic and social space. New York City, long

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