The newest population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show a slight downturn in the percentage of Franklin County residents who identified themselves as Hispanic.
The census bureau last week released estimates of county, state and national populations by age, race, sex and Hispanic origin for July 2011.
The data for Benton and Franklin counties shows the two counties continued to grow in overall population -- with a 3.1 percent increase in Benton from 175,177 as of the April 2010 census to 180,678 by July of last year.
Franklin grew at more than double that rate, with a 6.8 percent rise in population from 78,183 to 83,455.
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That growth earned Franklin County the distinction of being the fifth-fastest growing county in the nation.
The census bureau reported in April that the Tri-City metro area -- which includes Kennewick, Pasco and Richland -- ranked No. 1 in population growth in the nation, with 4.3 percent more people as of July 2011 than April 2010.
The data released last week show the Hispanic population of Benton County rose 3.9 percent, from 32,696 to 33,976.
Franklin County's Hispanic population also rose, but not as rapidly as the overall county population. The county's Hispanic population grew by 5.4 percent from 40,004 to 42,170.
While Franklin County remained a "majority-minority" county in which there are more minorities than whites, the proportion of county residents identifying themselves as Hispanic dropped slightly from 51.2 percent of the overall population as of the 2010 census to 50.5 percent in July 2011.
The proportion of Hispanic residents in Benton County was more or less stable at 18.7 percent in 2010 and 18.8 percent the following year.
The census defines "Hispanic" as an ethnic identity rather than a race, and those who identify themselves as Hispanic can be white, black or multiracial in census terms.