Growing up in the 1980s, Vincent Garcia and his family were the only Garcias he knew, he said.
“I can remember when we moved from Queens to Plainview in 1967, my father saying we were one of the only Garcias in the phone book,” Garcia, a detective and spokesman for the Nassau County Police Department, said. “Now it is as common as Smith.”
Not quite, but the surname Garcia is rising in the ranks.
The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released the ranking of the most common surnames in the country from 2010. While Smiths, Johnsons and Williamses are still the heavyweights, the data show Hispanic names on the rise. Garcia rose to the sixth spot, up from eight in 2000.
The top 15 surnames for 2010 include Rodriguez, Martinez, Hernandez, which were all on the list in 2000 but moved up or stayed in the same spot. Lopez and Gonzalez entered the top ranks for the first time.
Census officials said the rise in Hispanic names could be due to several factors. The population of those identifying as Hispanic or Latino is one, but there is also less variety in surnames. “Twenty-six surnames cover a quarter of the Hispanic population,” said Joshua Comenetz, assistant chief of the Population Division’s Population Geography staff.
Asian names are also showing a growth in popularity. Zhang, Li, Ali and Liu occupy the top four names with the greatest percentage growth since 2000. Latino names also had a strong showing in that list — Vazquez comes in sixth while Bautista and Velazquez are in 12th and 13th places.
The Census Bureau does not break down surname data by region, but on Long Island, Dawn Garcia said having a popular last name can pose problems.
Garcia, 75, of Melville, said she married into the name and sometimes wishes she had a different one. She and her family often get confused with other Garcias.
“It’s a pain in the butt,” she said. “With a name like Garcia, it’s very difficult for your credit, even if your credit is good. My husband’s first name happens to be Joseph, so that doesn’t help either.”
She’s not surprised at the growth, however. Garcia can come from any number of countries — her husband’s family is Portuguese, but she’s seen people with the same name from all over Central America and South America.
The most common surnames were: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Garcia, Miller, Davis, Rodriguez, Martinez, Hernandez, Lopez, Gonzalez, Wilson and Anderson.