The 23rd United States census takes place on April 1st 2010.
The census has many objectives, such as deciding the number of congressional seats allotted and the amount of federal money allocated to each region, but our main interest is obviously the Irish aspect.
America’s ethnic make-up is changing, and there’s some debate about whether the sense of one’s Irish heritage is weakening or in fact getting stronger.
The next US census may help clarify the picture.
Previously recorded numbers of Irish race were as follows, and whilst there’s an overall dip it will be interesting to see if 2010 produces results nearer to the 2000 census or (as maybe more likely?) the numbers recorded in 2008.
- US Census 1990 – 38,735,539
- US Census 2000 – 30,524,799
- American Community Survey 2006 – 36,495,800
- American Community Survey 2008 – 36,278,332
The latter two surveys do not include Scots-Irish ancestry, who are counted separately, and who account for at least five million additional Americans. (I’m not sure if the Censuses follow the same rules but will update this post if I find out, or if someone can let me know.)
There’s various factors involved here:
- The changing political scene in Northern Ireland over the last decade,
- The current initiatives from a range of Irish political parties to engage with the diaspora,
- The stronger online presence of Irish-American communities (e.g, IrishCentral.com),
- The possibility of a Global Irish Network and increasing business links,
- The discussion about the ‘undocumented Irish’,
- and more recent emigration being some obvious examples.
How these impact on the ‘ebb and flow’ is hard to quantify but maybe trends will give some indications.
In one way it would also be interesting if generational levels were recorded as it would be good to see how many 3rd 4th and 5th generation Irish see themselves as such. On the other hand it’s positive that this isn’t differentiated and that one’s right to a sense of heritage isn’t challenged.
If you’re Irish-American what do you think. Do you feel your heritage is still as important today as it was in the past?