As we examine the “New America,” it’s important to also remember that the ethnic make-up of the “Old America” still has a significant influence on the demography of the U.S.
Amid the surge of Hispanics, the largest ethnic group in the U.S. is still German-Americans, with a population of 49.8 million, a jump of 6 million between 2000 and 2010. In fact, the number of Americans more than half of the nation’s 3,143 counties contain a plurality of people who describe themselves as German-American, according to analysis of census data by Bloomberg.
Americans of German-descent top the list of U.S. ethnic groups, followed by Irish, 35.8 million; Mexican, 31.8 million; English, 27.4 million; and Italian, 17.6 million, analysis of Census and American Community Survey data shows.
“A lot of people aren’t aware that German is the largest ancestral group in the country,” Don Heinrich Tolzman, author of “The German-American Experience,” told Bloomberg. “It’s an eye-opener, and it’s something that’s commonly overlooked.”
Bloomberg’s analysis identified what it calls a “German belt” of the U.S. that extends from eastern Pennsylvania to the Oregon coast. A majority of counties in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas are predominantly German, and they make up a plurality of Ohio and Indiana counties.
Census figures show German-Americans are slightly older and better educated than the general population, with one-third having a bachelor’s degree or higher. More than 85 percent live in the same place as they did in 2009, and 40 percent are employed in management, business, science or the arts.
Pennsylvania has the largest population of German-Americans and is home to one of the group’s original settlements, Germantown in 1683. The state has 3.5 million people claiming German ancestry — more than in Berlin.