Census Bureau Reports About 350 Languages Spoken in US Homes

By U.S. Census Bureau, Special for  USDR

U.S. Census Bureau released a set of new tables today detailing hundreds of languages that U.S. residents speak at home. American Community Survey data on languages spoken at home were previously available for only 39 languages. These tables, based on American Community Survey data collected from 2009 to 2013, expand the languages and language groups tabulated to  350.

These tables are among the most comprehensive data ever released from the Census Bureau on languages spoken less widely in the United States, such as Pennsylvania Dutch, Ukrainian, Turkish, Romanian, Amharic and many others. Also included are 150 different Native North American languages, collectively spoken by more than 350,000 people, including Yupik, Dakota, Apache, Keres and  Cherokee.

“While most of the U.S. population speaks only English at home or a handful of other languages like Spanish or Vietnamese, the American Community Survey reveals the wide-ranging language diversity of the United States,” said Erik Vickstrom, a Census Bureau statistician. “For example, in the New York metro area alone, more than a third of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and close to 200 different languages are spoken. Knowing the number of languages and how many speak these languages in a particular area provides valuable information to policymakers, planners and  researchers.”

The tables provide information on languages and language groups for counties and core-based statistical areas (metropolitan and micropolitan areas) with populations of 100,000 or more and 25,000 or more speakers of languages other than Spanish, as well as for the nation, states and Puerto Rico regardless of population size. These data show the number of speakers of each language and the number who speak English less than “very well” — a common measure of English  proficiency.

In addition to making the tables available for download as a spreadsheet, the Census Bureau will release the data as part of its application programming interface, or  API.

Highlights for the 15 largest metro  areas:

New York metro  area

  • At least 192 languages are spoken at home.
  • 38 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Bengali, with 105,765 speakers.

Los Angeles metro  area

  • At least 185 languages are spoken at home.
  • 54 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Indonesian, with 12,750 speakers.

Chicago metro  area

  • At least 153 languages are spoken at home.
  • 29 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Serbian, with 17,490 speakers.

Dallas metro  area

  • At least 156 languages are spoken at home.
  • 30 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Telugu, with 12,630 speakers.

Philadelphia metro  area

  • At least 146 languages are spoken at home.
  • 15 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Malayalam, with 10,370 speakers.

Houston metro  area

  • At least 145 languages are spoken at home.
  • 37 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Tamil, with 4,690 speakers.

Washington metro  area

  • At least 168 languages are spoken at home.
  • 26 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Amharic, with 43,125 speakers.

Miami metro  area

  • At least 128 languages are spoken at home.
  • 51 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Romanian, with 5,295 speakers.

Atlanta metro  area

  • At least 146 languages are spoken at home.
  • 17 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Swahili, with 4,195 speakers.

Boston metro  area

  • At least 138 languages are spoken at home.
  • 23 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Albanian, with 6,800 speakers.

San Francisco metro  area

  • At least 163 languages are spoken at home.
  • 40 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Panjabi, with 19,985 speakers.

Detroit metro  area

  • At least 126 languages are spoken at home.
  • 12 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Syriac, with 23,175 speakers.

Riverside, Calif., metro  area

  • At least 145 languages are spoken at home.
  • 40 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Dutch, with 2,425 speakers.

Phoenix metro  area

  • At least 163 languages are spoken at home.
  • 26 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Pima, with 3,050 speakers.

Seattle metro  area

  • At least 166 languages are spoken at home.
  • 22 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Ukrainian, with 15,850 speakers.

About the American Community  Survey

The American Community Survey is the only source of small area estimates for social and demographic characteristics of the U.S. population. It gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results. Visit the ACS helps communities page to see some  examples.

These statistics would not be possible without the participation of the randomly selected households in the  survey.

SOURCE U.S. Census  Bureau

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