We ask a question about whether a person is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin to create statistics about this ethnic group.
Local, state, tribal, and federal programs use these data, and they are critical factors in the basic research behind numerous policies, particularly for civil rights. Data on the Hispanic and non-Hispanic populations are used in planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for specific groups.
These data are also used to evaluate government programs and policies to ensure that they fairly and equitably serve the needs of the Hispanic population and to monitor compliance with antidiscrimination laws, regulations, and policies.
Though many respondents expect to see a Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish category on the race question, this question is asked separately because people of Hispanic origin may be of any race(s). The Census Bureau collects these data in accordance with the 1997 Office of Management and Budget standards on race and ethnicity. OMB requires federal agencies to use a minimum of two ethnicities in collecting and reporting data: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. OMB defines "Hispanic or Latino" as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
People who identify with the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" are those who classify themselves in one of the specific Hispanic or Latino categories listed on the American Community Survey questionnaire and various Census Bureau survey questionnaires - "Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano" or "Puerto Rican" or "Cuban" - as well as those who indicate that they are "another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin."
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask one question about a person's Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin to better understand demographic characteristics.
We compile the results from this question to provide communities with important statistics about the Hispanic population and to present other estimates by Hispanic or Latino origin. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
We ask about the Hispanic or Latino origin of community members in combination with information about housing, voting, language, employment, and education, to help governments and communities enforce antidiscrimination laws, regulations, and policies. For example, data on the Hispanic population are used to:
Researchers, advocacy groups, and policymakers are interested in knowing if people of Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin have the same opportunities in education, employment, voting, and home ownership.
The question about a person's ethnicity originated with the 1970 Census. It was added to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.