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By Published on .

The biggest multicultural news to come from Census 2000 lately doesn't have a thing to do with Hispanics: This time the focus is on the Chinese. According to data made available recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, Chinese (including both Mandarin and Cantonese) is — for the first time — the second-most common foreign language spoken by those living on U.S. soil. Today an estimated 2 million Americans (0.8 percent of the population) regularly speak Chinese at home. While that's a far cry from the estimated 28 million Americans who speak Spanish at home, it's decidedly higher than the 1.6 million who speak French and the 1.4 million who speak German. Other Asian tongues are also gaining ground. There are now 1.2 million Tagalog speakers and 1 million Vietnamese speakers in the U.S., compared with 843,000 and 507,000, respectively, in 1990.


Top metros ranked by the percentage of residents who speak Chinese at home.


1. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 5.9%
2. Honolulu, HI 3.5%
3. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA 2.4%
4. New York-Long Island-Northern New Jersey, NY-NJ-CT-PA 2.2%
5. Champaign-Urbana, IL 1.8%
6. Sacramento-Yolo, CA CMSA 1.6%
7. Iowa City, IA MSA 1.3%
8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA CMSA 1.3%
9. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence, MA-NH-ME-CT CMSA 1.3%
10. State College, PA MSA 1.2%
10. Bryan-College Station, TX MSA 1.2%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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