In 2020, the United States conducted a national census, the so-called 2020 Census. By law, this happens every 10 years. Due to the pandemic, however, the results were delayed, but from a new table in the national statistics, we can see how many people were officially counted as Bulgarians in the United States. The number is far from what most of us assume about the size of the Bulgarian community here.
According to data from the American Community Survey, there were 102,094 Bulgarians in the US in 2021. The result is based on a forecast based on official 2020 census data for 1 year ahead. The error is plus / minus 7,052 people.
The official statistics data diverge dramatically from what the media and politicians have been saying for years about the Bulgarian community in the United States. You’ve probably come across many places where over 200-300,000 Bulgarians live in Chicago alone (no, that’s not true). But there are many times more Bulgarians in the US than the 102,000 who appear to have been marked as such in the national census, reports bg-voice.com.
“Obviously, our countrymen think they will be in a better position, they will have more chances in their environment – professional and domestic, if they are American,” says our former ambassador to the United States, Elena Poptodorova. The figures for 2021 are not very different from those of 10 years ago: the increase from 2010 to today is less than 5,000 people.
“This is a hereditary apathy towards all social processes”, commented our Consul General in Chicago, Svetoslav Stankov, and added: “not only the political ones, but also how the community develops. These relationships in the United States – within the community and between communities – are extremely important. While in Italy this feeling does not develop at the apex of American civil society.
“This is not a new phenomenon. Ever since there was a predominantly political immigration in the US, the aspiration was to dissolve, that the Bulgarian was American, not considered an immigrant, a foreigner, a precarious one. I thought this had been experienced, but apparently not. This continues. Or is it the desire to unite, to identify with the more developed nation. Or you are so dissatisfied with your homeland that you have no desire to identify with it. ” commented Poptodorova.
“During the elections, the parties promise a lot to Bulgarians abroad, but then they do nothing: there is no necessary funding, no political or public structures to support the community,” Stankov believes.
The data shows that there are more women than men, 52.2% and 47.8% respectively.
More than half of our compatriots in the US are married (60.3%). Our community is relatively highly educated: over 82% have more than secondary education (at least one associate degree), those with masters and above are more than 32%. Just over 19% say they do not speak English “very well” and nearly 67% also speak another language.
7.4% have some kind of chronic illness or disability.
37,414 Bulgarians reported being born in the United States and 64,680 overseas.
Almost half obtained US citizenship through naturalization (50,089). One explanation for the small number of those who have marked themselves as Bulgarians is that some of them have no legal status in the country, although the statistics are anonymous and have no connection with immigration authorities.
Lack of census activity also creates problems for Bulgarian diplomats, institutions and organizations in the United States.
“We are drastically losing influence,” says our Consul General in Chicago, Svetoslav Stankov. – The lack of visibility of the Bulgarian community means minimal influence on the Bulgarian community “.
Explain that at every meeting with various institutions and politicians, they always ask how many Bulgarians there are in the US or Chicago. “Everyone is doing what you are doing right now: looking at the census data. And when we are few, it becomes difficult here to ask and receive things for our community. In Germany, for example, over 400,000 Bulgarians have registered.”
“In an America that favors communities and is particularly proud to host diverse communities while preserving their identity and character, we are losing a lot. They are quotas of all kinds, an opportunity to participate in political life as a representative of a certain community. We should use this very strong incentive – economic, social, that the American system gives to show that everyone is welcome, says Elena Poptodorova. – This is an opportunity to reflect: why Bulgarians choose this path “.
According to Stankov, Bulgarian institutions should work with the community to raise awareness of processes such as the census and how to actively participate. “For the Bulgarian state, this is extremely important: that Bulgarians are active in social processes in America, not only among themselves, but also as part of the political system in America. And it works exactly like this: by registering, declaring a certain belonging to a certain ethnic group. There is a lack of awareness and awareness of how important it is, not only for the community, but also for Bulgaria “.
“There is a selfish policy: parties demonstrate their patriotism by elevating work with Bulgarian communities abroad to a special rank. I think the approach is wrong. This is not a problem for Greeks, Poles, even Macedonians. trapping immigrants in the Bulgarian reality is not a profitable approach, quite the opposite: we should stimulate their development as they see it in the environment they have chosen “, says Poptodorova.
Most Bulgarians are employed in the education, health and social care sectors – 21.1%, followed by those in the arts, entertainment, hotel accommodation and catering (10%) and commerce ( 9.9%). 8.9% of our compatriots work in the transport sector and 9% in the financial, insurance and real estate sectors.
The median income of a Bulgarian family in the United States is $ 84,437. 3 percent is below the poverty line.
Nearly 20% receive money from Social Security (on average $ 18,026 per year). Without health insurance, that’s 9.6%.
And in the United States, Bulgarians seem to like their home: 65.4% indicated they own the house they live in.
Nearly 96% say they have their own computer and 93.5% have high-speed Internet.