Data from the American Community Survey (ACS), recently released by the US Census Bureau for 2017 – it measures the US population as of July 1, 2017 – shows that nearly 21.8% of US residents over the age of five-year-olds (including born, legal and illegal immigrants) spoke a language other than English at home. Of the total population of 30.5 crore, 6.7 crore spoke a foreign language at home.
In fiscal year 2016, with 6.5 crore out of a total population of 30.3 crore speaking a foreign language at home, the percentage was just under 20.6%. Hindi had 8.63 Lakh speakers in the United States, followed by Gujarati (4.34 lakh) and Telugu (4.15 lakh).
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is considered an anti-immigration think tank, analyzed this data, specifically comparing statistics from 2017 with 2010. According to its report, over a seven-year period from 2010 , the number of Telugu speakers increased exponentially by 86%. The corresponding increase for Hindi and Gujarati speakers was only 42% and 22% respectively.
TOI in its September 17 edition, reported that 26.10 lakh of the American population were born in India (this figure did not include those with Indian parents but born in the United States). In the context of this statistic, at least 33% of Indians in the United States speak Hindi, nearly 17% speak Gujarati and Telugu. The CIS reports that the total number of those who speak a foreign language has more than doubled since 1990 and almost tripled since 1980.
According to CIS, in the five largest US cities, 48% of residents speak a language other than English at home. For example, in Los Angeles it is 59%, in New York and Houston it is 49%. For its analysis, TOI relied primarily on data available on the US Census Bureau-American Fact Finder website.
However, for 2010, this website did not show some Indian languages, which then did not have a large speaking population – such as Telugu, Bengali and Tamil, but referred to them as “other Indian languages”. For this break, TOI relied on the CIS report.
ACS is the largest survey undertaken by the US government each year and includes over 20 lakh households.
While Bengali and Tamil in numerical terms were not the top three Indian languages spoken in the United States, the number of people speaking this language increased by 57% and 55% to stand at 2.23 lakh, respectively. and 1.84 lakh.
However, it should be noted that individuals from countries other than India also speak these two languages (such as mainly those from Bangladesh for Bengali. Tamil is also widely spoken in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia). The US Census Board does not provide a linguistic and national breakdown. As the Urdu and Punjabi speaking population in the United States is said to be primarily from Pakistan, TOI ignored these statistics in their analysis.
According to a few immigration experts, one possible reason for the significant increase in the Telugu-speaking population is that many employees in the tech sector, which is a major employer of H-1B visa holders, are from ‘Andhra Pradesh.