A total of 986,000 Hispanics of Guatemalan origin resided in the United States in 2008, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Guatemalans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Guatemalan origin; this means either they themselves are Guatemalan immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to Guatemala. Guatemalans are the sixth-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 2.1% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2008. Mexicans constituted 30.7 million, or 65.7%, of the Hispanic population.1

This statistical profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of the Guatemalan population with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall. It is based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the 2008 American Community Survey. Key facts include:

  • Immigration status. Seven-in-ten Guatemalans (69.4%) in the United States are foreign born compared with 38.1% of Hispanics and 12.5% of the U.S. population overall. Seven-in-ten of immigrants from Guatemala (69.6%) arrived in the U.S. in 1990 or later. Nearly one quarter of Guatemalan immigrants (23.8%) are U.S. citizens.
  • Language. Four-in-ten Guatemalans (39.1%) speak English proficiently.2 Some 60.9% of Guatemalans ages 5 and older report speaking English less than very well, compared with 37.3% of all Hispanics.
  • Age. Guatemalans are younger than the U.S. population and similar in age to Hispanics overall. The median age of Guatemalans is 28; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 36 and 27, respectively.
  • Marital status. Less than half of Guatemalans (44.6%) and Hispanics overall (46.5%) are married.
  • Fertility. Four-in-ten (41.3%) Guatemalan women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was greater than the rate for all Hispanic women—38.8%—and the rate for U.S. women—34.5%.
  • Regional dispersion. Four-in-ten Guatemalans (40.2%) live in the West, mostly in California (33.9%). One-third (32.4%) live in the South.
  • Educational attainment. Guatemalans have lower levels of education than the Hispanic population overall. Some 53.6% of Guatemalans ages 25 and older—compared with 39.2% of all U.S. Hispanics—have not obtained at least a high school diploma.
  • Income. The median annual personal earnings for Guatemalans ages 16 and older were $19,349 in 2008; the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics were $21,488.
  • Poverty status. The share of Guatemalans who live in poverty, 20.6%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (12.7%) and similar to the share for all Hispanics (20.7%).
  • Health Insurance. Nearly one-half of Guatemalans (47.9%) do not have health insurance compared with 31.7% of all Hispanics and 15.4% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 22.8% of Guatemalans younger than 18 are uninsured.
  • Homeownership. The rate of Guatemalan homeownership (35.6%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (49.1%) and the U.S. population (66.6%) as a whole.

About the Data

This statistical profile of Hispanics of Guatemalan origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. The data used for this statistical profile come from 2008 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), representing a 1% sample of the U.S. population.

Like any survey, estimates from the ACS are subject to sampling error and (potentially) measurement error. Information on the ACS sampling strategy and associated error is available at www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/accuracy2008.pdf. An example of measurement error is that citizenship rates for the foreign born are estimated to be overstated in the Decennial Census and other official surveys, such as the ACS (see Jeffrey Passel. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2008)). Finally, estimates from the ACS may differ from the Decennial Census or other Census Bureau surveys due to differences in methodology and data collection procedures (see, for example, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/Report10.pdf and http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/ASA_nelson.pdf).