Vigo and surrounding counties followed a statewide trend of more racial and ethnic diversity during the past decade.

But Wabash Valley’s growing diversity did not come in the youth segment, according to U.S. Census data.

Vigo, Clay, Parke, Sullivan and Vermillion counties all saw their populations of all persons younger than age 18 decline, anywhere from 4.8 percent to 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010. And all five counties also saw the percentage of white youth decline, anywhere from 6.7 percent to 9.7 percent.

The big growth in the youth segment came in the percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents. The number of youth who identified themselves as being of two or more races also grew significantly, by as much as 85 percent.

In Vigo County, significant population growth came in the Asian community, as foreign-affiliated companies relocated families to the area, and the professional community continues to welcome people who are learning English as a second language.

 At the Vigo County Public Library, Susan Jakaitis of the Lifelong Learning Center said many of the students learning the English language and American social skills are associated not only with the area universities, but with companies such as North American Lighting in Paris, Ill., and Advics Manufacturing Indiana (formerly Aisin Brake and Chassis). These people want to learn how to navigate American culture, she said, and their children are attending local schools.

A look at the demographics of the Vigo County School Corp. for 2009-10 shows more than 13,000 students identified as white; 977 identified as black; 384 as Hispanic or Latino; 237 as Asian or Pacific Islander; 36 as American Indian; and 1,041 who identify themselves as multi-racial.

In Vigo County, the number of English learners has remained steady in recent years, said Susan Newton, a Vigo County School Corp. curriculum coordinator. Parents who come from another country often are studying or teaching at Indiana State University or perhaps Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The families remain in the community for a few years, and it’s a “very mobile” population, Newton said. There are about 300 English learners, she said, 176 elementary, 79 middle school and 45 high school.

The languages have changed a great deal in recent years, with 64 speaking Spanish, 62 Arabic, and 17 Tagalog, a language spoken in the Philippines.

Dixie Bee Elementary, Honey Creek Middle School and Terre Haute South Vigo High School have high numbers of English learners, she said.

As Indiana’s percentage of minority students has risen steadily to 25.7 percent for the 2009-10 school year compared with 13.7 percent in 1990, Vigo County’s minority student populations has increased at a slower rate, from 8.1 percent to 14.4 percent.

In youth population during the past 10 years, Vigo County saw a decline of almost 8 percent in black children younger than 18, from 1,565 in 2000 to 1,441 in 2010, even though the total number of black residents increased to 7,371 in 2010 from 6,334 in 2000.

Asian youth grew in numbers to 336 in 2010 from 224 in 2000, while the total Asian population of Vigo County grew by 489 people to 1,777 in 2010.

People who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino, which is an ethnicity and not a race, grew by 93.6 percent in Vigo County during the 10-year census span, and those persons now compose 2.2 percent of the county’s population.

In Clay County, Hispanic or Latino population grew 98.1 percent, with the number of children increasing by 105 percent. In Parke County, the total number grew to 215, which is a 106-percent increase. In Sullivan County, the total Hispanic or Latino population grew by 64.2 percent with a 65.5 percent growth in Hispanic youth. Vermillion County saw only a 21.5 percent growth in that community, with the number of Hispanic or Latino youth increasing by 28.6 percent.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

Sue Loughlin contributed to this story. She can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

A more diverse Indiana, by the numbers

From 2000 to 2010, the state’s total population increased 6.6 percent, by 403,317, to a total of 6,483,802.

Hispanics accounted for 43 percent of the state’s total growth since 2000. The state’s Hispanic population grew to 389,707 in 2010 from 214,536 in 2000.

The Asian population increased 74 percent, to 101,444 in 2010 from 58,424 in 2000.

Indiana’s white population grew 1.3 percent, to 5,286,453 in 2010 from 5,219,373 in 2000.

To find out more about how Indiana is becoming more diverse, visit the Indiana STATS website, run by the Indiana Business Research Center, at www.stats.indiana.edu.

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