Growth of the U.S. Hispanic population is so fast and dynamic that it has outstripped estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The report by the Pew Hispanic Center think-tank found that the Latino population in the 33 states so far tallied in the 2010 Census totaled 38.7 million, 1.5 percent higher than the U.S. Census Bureau's own previous estimates.
The gap between the Census 2010 count and the bureau's projections was widest in states in the Southeast and upper Midwest of the United States which had not previously had large Hispanic populations.
States with the greatest discrepancy included Kansas, Louisiana and Alabama, where the estimates and census tally were adrift by 10.8 percent, 13.2 percent and 15.9 percent respectively.
The projections for the traditional Hispanic destinations of California, Texas and Illinois, meanwhile, were out from the final tally by 0.7 percent, 0.9 percent and 1.1 percent respectively..
"In the traditional Hispanic states the estimates have been very close, but it's in the newer areas where Hispanics have settled in the past ten years or so that the counts are coming in significantly higher," senior demographer Jeffrey S. Passel told Reuters.
"When trends change, demographers aren't very good at picking them up until they have changed quite a bit ... Generally speaking areas and populations that are growing rapidly tend to be underestimated," he added, accounting for the discrepancy.
Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States.
A previous Census Bureau projection tipped ethnic and racial minorities in the United States to become the majority by 2050, by which time nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Latino.
The full census tally for Hispanics in all U.S. states is expected by the end of March.