More than half of California's residents under 18 are Latino, including in San Diego County, according to new Census 2010 data.
"That's our future electorate. That's our future workforce. That is the future of California," said Rosalind Gold, senior director of research and advocacy at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
NALEO analyzed age and other data for the state and released statements from its members highlighting the importance of addressing the educational, health, economic needs of the state's young Latino population. San DiegoRed.com verified the findings for the state and analyzed data for San Diego County.
Latinos accounted for 51 percent of the state's 9,295,040 residents under 18, according to the 2010 Census.
In San Diego County, Latinos represent 50.5 percent of the region's 652,805 residents under 18, according to the census data. In many schools, Latino students have been the majority for a long time.
The 2010 Census also revealed that 90 percent of California's population growth during the past decade was attributed to Latinos.
During the 2000s, the state's population grew 10 percent, from 33.9 million to 37.2 million, an increase of 3.3 million. The Latino population increased nearly 28 percent, from 11 million to 14 million, an increase of 3 million.
"Clearly, Latinos will continue to play a larger and larger role in our state," said state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, who is a NALEO board member. "Improving educational and economic opportunities for Latino youth will ensure a brighter future for all Californians."
U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, also a NALEO member, warned against slashing federal, state and local education funds because of the harmful impact it would have particularly on California's young Latino population.
California is currently facing a $25 billion-plus budget deficit that could lead to deep cuts to education unless the state is able to extend temporary tax increases, which would require state voter approval.