Hindi continues to be the most widely spoken Indian language in the US, followed by Gujarati and Telugu.
However, in terms of percentage increase, if the data of 2010 is compared with the most recent figures for 2017, the number of Telugu speaking individuals has risen the most by 86%.
The American Community Survey (ACS) data, recently released by the US Census Bureau for 2017, it measures the US population as of July 1, 2017 shows that nearly 21.8% of residents in US aged over five (which include native-born, legal and illegal immigrants) speak a language other than English at home.
Of the total populace of 30.5 crore, 6.7 crore spoke a foreign language at home. In FY 2016, with 6.5 crore out of a total populace of 30.3 crore, speaking a foreign language at home, the percentage was slightly lower at 20.6%.
In absolute numbers, Hindi remained the most widely spoken Indian language in America with 8.63 lakh speakers, followed by Gujarati (4.34 lakh) and Telugu (4.15 lakh).
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is viewed as an anti-immigration think-tank, has analysed this data, specifically comparing the statistics of 2017 with 2010.
Telugu boom in US driven by H-1B craze in T & AP
As per its report, over a seven-year period from 2010, the number of Telugu speakers has risen exponentially by 86%. The corresponding rise as regards Hindi and Gujarati speakers was just 42% and 22% respectively.
TOI in its edition dated Sept 17 had reported that 26.10 lakh of the US population were born in India (this figure did not include those having Indian parents but born in the US). In the backdrop of this statistic, at least 33% Indians in the US speak Hindi, nearly 17% speak Gujarati and Telugu.
CIS reports that total figure of those who speak a foreign language has more than doubled since 1990 and tripled since 1980.
According to CIS, in US’ five largest cities, 48% speak a language other than English at home. For instance, in LA it is 59%, in NY and Houston its 49%.
TOI for the purpose of its analysis has primarily relied on the data available on the US Census Bureau-American Fact Finder website.
However, for 2010, this website did not separately show some Indian languages, which did not then have a large speaking populace – like Telugu, Bengali and Tamil but clubbed them as ‘other Indic languages’.
For this specific breakup, TOI has relied on the CIS report. ACS is the largest survey undertaken by the US government each year and includes over 20 lakh households.
According to a few Immigration experts, one of the possible reasons for the significant rise in the Telugu speaking population is that many employees in the technology sector, which is a major employer of H-1B visa holders, hail from Andhra Pradesh.