Interactive map: State-by-state growth in residents with limited English

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There are more than 25 million people in the United States who struggle with English, according to census data. People who provide public services use the term Limited English Proficiency (LEP) to describe this segment of the population. The size of the LEP population has grown by 80 percent in just two decades. That’s significant; and some individual states have seen even more striking growth in that same amount of time.

Using 2010 census data, we’ve created an interactive map showing the states with the biggest growth in LEP population over the past 20 years.

A map of states with the largest LEP populations would not surprise you: California, Texas, New York, Illinois. But the states seeing the most growth in this area are more difficult to intuit.

Those states I just mentioned have certainly seen growth, but only in the double digits. Meanwhile, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia have each seen their LEP populations grow by close to 400 percent.

Check out the map to see the growth (or, in a few cases, the decline) of people with limited English proficiency living in your state.

We’ve already reported on part of what this means for health care providers (see “A right to a medical interpreter, but not a guarantee“), but we’re interested in more of the ways our communities are experiencing, and accommodating, an influx of people who don’t speak much English. If you live in one of the states on the map that’s a darker shade of red, please tell us what special needs and opportunities have arisen at schools, grocery stores, churches, businesses, parks and other corners of life where you live.

Share your experiences here:

How has the number of people who don’t speak much English changed in your community since you have lived there?