HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). Racial/Ethnic Diversity

11/22/2015

Diversity has long been a characteristic of the Nation’s population, but the racial and ethnic composition has changed over time. In recent decades, the percent of the population that is of Hispanic or Asian origin has more than doubled. In 2000, 19 percent of the population identified themselves as Black or African-American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or of more than one race; 12.6 percent of the total U.S. population identified themselves as of Hispanic origin. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2010, 20.7 percent of the total U.S. population will identify themselves as Black or African-American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or of more than one race; and 15.5 percent will identify themselves as of Hispanic origin.xxxvi

The U.S. Census Bureau also reports that nearly one in five people, or 47 million U.S. residents age 5 and older, spoke a language other than English at home in 2000—an increase of 15 million people since 1990. According to the report, Spanish speakers increased from 17.3 million in 1990 to 28.1 million in 2000, a 62 percent rise. Only

55 percent of the people who speak a language other than English at home report they speak English “very well.”xxxvii

These changes in the racial and ethnic composition of the population have important consequences for the Nation’s health because many of the measures of disease and disability differ significantly by race and ethnicity. These shifts in the racial and ethnic makeup of the United States require health professionals and organizations to achieve cultural competence and to ensure that they utilize appropriate and tailored approaches in working with these population groups.

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