Johnson sees the trend as an opportunity for more Americans to embrace diversity.

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They numbered 52 million in 2011, and their population grew by 3.1% since 2010. "California had the largest Hispanic population of any state on July 1, 2011 (14.4 million), as well as the largest numeric increase within the Hispanic population since April 1, 2010, (346,000)," the Census said.

"New Mexico had the highest percentage of Hispanics at 46.7%.

"This is breathing new life into the United States." Jeff Passell, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, called the Census numbers "a cumulative effect of 35 to 40 years of immigration" bringing large numbers of Latinos, Asians and other immigrants into the United States.

He said the Hispanic population in particular is very young, much more concentrated in child-bearing years, and has a higher fertility rate than the white, non-Hispanic population.

The changes are going to be felt first in hospitals, as well as schools, where an increasingly diverse child population has to be absorbed.

Hospitals would need interpreters and translators, for example, Johnson said.

"This is a trend that we can reasonably expect to continue.

The factors that determine this have been set into motion, and in demography things tend to change gradually," he said.

Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, has the largest black population of any county at 1.3 million.