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Nearly 3 Million U.S. Residents Speak Chinese at Home, Census Bureau Reports

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nearly 3 Million U.S. Residents Speak Chinese at Home, Census Bureau Reports

Press Release Number CB13-R.90

A U.S. Census Bureau report released today says that after English and Spanish, Chinese was the most widely spoken language in the United States, with 2.9 million people speaking it at home in 2011.

Language Use in the United States: 2011 uses data from the American Community Survey to show that the number of Chinese speakers in the U.S. has more than quadrupled since 1980, when this language was spoken at home by 631,000 people. Among the nation's Chinese speakers in 2011, 44 percent also spoke English "very well." The accompanying 2011 Language Mapper uses data collected during the American Community Survey from 2007 to 2011 to illustrate the geographic concentration of the population speaking Chinese at home. These Chinese speakers were heavily concentrated in the New York (549,000), Los Angeles (399,000) and San Francisco (334,000) metro areas. The number of Chinese speakers includes those speaking any of the many Chinese dialects, such as Mandarin and Cantonese.

Overall, the percentage of people in the U.S. speaking a language other than English at home went from 17.9 percent in 2000 to 19.7 percent in 2007, while continuing upward to 20.8 percent in 2011. The percent speaking English less than "very well" grew from 8.1 percent in 2000 to 8.7 percent in 2011.

To access the full news release, see <www.census.gov/newsroom/archives/2013-pr/cb13-143.html>. You may access the report and mapper tool at <www.census.gov/topics/population/language-use.html>. 

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are used by everyone from town and city planners to retailers and homebuilders. The survey is the only source of local statistics for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as education, occupation, language, ancestry and housing costs for even the smallest communities. The Census Bureau conducts a variety of household and business surveys by telephone, in-person interviews, through the mail, and by Internet. The Census Bureau is committed to protecting privacy and confidentiality. Participating in the American Community Survey is an opportunity to give back to the community.



Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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