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July 2002, Volume 8, Number 3

California: Salinas, Watsonville

Census 2000 data indicate that immigration continued to change the socio-demographic face of the city of Salinas, California, during the 1990s. The total population of the city of Salinas increased 39 percent between 1990 and 2000. The foreign-born population rose more rapidly than the total population, so the share of foreign-born in Salinas' total population jumped from 26 to 35 percent. However, the share of recent (1990s arrivals) immigrants in Salinas' foreign-born population fell slightly, from 45 to 43 percent. Most Salinas residents, 60 percent, spoke a language other than English at home.


The Salinas city population was slightly more mobile in 2000 than in 1990. Only 34 percent of the 2000 Salinas city population resided in the same county (Salinas County) five years earlier, compared with 38 percent of the 1990 population. In 2000, a smaller percentage of Salinas city's population had recently migrated from another US state than in 1990, and a larger percentage had recently migrated from abroad.


The education of adults in the city of Salinas city fell during the 1990s, reflecting low skilled immigration from Mexico (88 percent of the city's foreign-born population in 2000 was from a Latin American country, overwhelmingly Mexico). The share of residents 25 and older without a high school degree rose from just under 38 percent in 1990 to 44 percent in 2000. The share with at least some college education fell, from 40 percent in 1990 to less than 37 percent.


During the 1990s, agriculture lost importance as an employer of Salinas city residents. The share of Salinas workers in farm jobs fell from 16 to 13 percent in the 1990s; the rising share of nonagricultural workers was accompanied by rising incomes and decreasing poverty. Salinas City's average per-capita income is low- $11,351 in 1990. Per-capita incomes increased by $3,144, or 28 percent, during the 1990s, and the percentage of families receiving public assistance fell from 15 to six percent.


Neighboring Watsonville's population grew during the 1990s, from 31,099 to 44,265, and the share of the foreign-born rose from 35 to 44 percent. In 2000, 70 percent of this city's residents spoke a language other than English at home. More than half of Watsonville adults had not completed high school in 2000, and the share of adults with at least some college education fell in the 1990s, as in Salinas. The share Watsonville residents with farm jobs was stable at 18 percent in 1990 and 2000.


Per-capita income in Watsonville rose, from $10,422 in 1990 to $13,205 in 2000, but the percentage of residents with below-poverty level incomes remained stable at 15 percent. Despite the stable poverty rate, the percentage of families receiving public assistance fell sharply between 1990 and 2000, from 12 to six percent.


U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet and Census 2000, http://www.census.gov/main/www/cen2000.html