An overview of Portuguese Americans in the U.S.

December 1, 2011 in Demographics, Ethnic Communities

Originally published on our multicultural marketing newsletter, réd.

the Portuguese American community

Portuguese Americans are often incorrectly cited as descendants of any Portuguese-speaking country, but in reality, it’s only those who are from the European country of Portugal. There are approximately 1.5 million Portuguese Americans living in the U.S., making up less than .5 percent of the entire population. Some of the largest Portuguese-American communities reside in the metropolitan Boston area, Greater New York/New Jersey/Connecticut and in the San Francisco Bay Area. While California, Massachussetts and Rhode Island have the highest population of Portuguese Americans, it is Hawaii that houses the highest percentage of its entire population (4.5 percent).

The $59,212 median household income for Portuguese Americans is slightly higher than the $51,369 national average. Age and occupation characteristics are mostly in par with U.S. averages as are modern-day shopping habits and attitudes. Portuguese Americans are highly acculturated into mainstream American society and their cultural traditions are made up of Roman Catholic followings. However, the community still strives to maintain a sense of heritage, staying connected through traditional and digital media portals, including social media sites, blogs, forums and genealogy online sites.

As unassuming as the Portuguese-American community appears to be, their presence has made significant marks in America’s popular culture. The Transamerica Pyramid – one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmark – was built in the 1970s by a Portuguese American by the name of William Pereira. John Franco, Tom Hanks and Katy Perry are a few of the many celebrities with Portuguese ancestry. California Rep. Jim Costa and TV personality Meredith Louise Vieira are also of Portuguese descent. The references remind us that the entire U.S. population is descendant of some place in the world – no matter how small it may be.

Portuguese American Organizations

The Portuguese American community has a variety of professional and cultural organizations in the U.S., a few of them listed below.

Portuguese American Club
Portuguese American Cultural Society of Palm Beach County 
Portuguese Cultural Center
Portuguese American Community Center
Virginia Portuguese Community Center
The National Organization of Portuguese Americans