Are Latinos the Future of the State and of Local Economic Growth?



At the start of 2020, annual population growth is expected to be the lowest in US history out of wartime. Add to that the pandemic and, in July 2021, some wondered if the population would decrease for the first time recorded before the end of the year.

The prospect of not having enough workers to build local economies is more basic than a lack of skills. “It’s a competitiveness issue,” says James Johnson, demographics expert and professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We are an aging nation – the fastest growing is among those 65 and over, and those 85 and over are growing faster than the population aged 25 to 44.”

Aside from its wider implications, this is not good news for the public sector. “Three-quarters of the government workforce are old buddies who will be passing away soon,” Johnson said.

From 2010 to 2019, the economic productivity of Latinos in the United States grew at a faster rate than the country as a whole.

GDP higher than that of most countries

In this context of generalized decline, a sector has disproportionate potential to contribute to local economies. The country’s Latin American population has become a unique engine of growth, say the authors of the 2021 Latin GDP Report, published by the nonprofit Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC).

The main message of the report is striking: If Latinos in the United States were an independent country, their 2019 GDP would be on par with France as the world’s seventh largest economy. If the 2020 census data were taken into account, the Latin GDP would be higher than that of France.

Between 2010 and 2019, the total economic output of Latinos in the United States grew at a faster rate than the U.S. GDP and faster than the GDP of any country other than China and India. During this period, real Latin American consumption grew 123% faster than non-Latin American consumption.

The labor force participation of Latinos is 5.5 percentage points higher than that of non-Latinos. The importance of this is reinforced by the fact that the Latin American population grew by 46 million between 1980 and 2019, compared to 17 million for the white non-Latin American population. Their contributions span multiple industries, with above-average productivity in sectors as diverse as agriculture, mining, manufacturing of non-durable goods, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and l ‘warehousing, education, health care, recreation and hospitality, and personal and maintenance services.

“The 2020 census revealed that nearly 30% of all children under 12 are Latino, and over the next 10 years these children will be integrated into the labor market; you really can’t plan if you’re missing 30 percent of the future population, ”says Ana Valdez, LDC executive president.

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Of the ten states with the fastest growing Latin American population, only one (Florida) already has a large number of Latino citizens. (PMA)

Geographic diversity

Three quarters of Latin Americans live in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas. In 2018, their GDP in these states alone was $ 2.1 trillion, and 80% of all Latino consumption takes place in these states.

While these states may have the largest Latin American populations, the highest growth rates occur elsewhere, including North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

“With the exception of Florida, the main hot spots for Latin American population growth and therefore Latin American GDP are outside the 10 largest states by Latin American population,” the report notes.

According to analysis According to Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center, between 2010 and 2019, the Latin American population grew faster in the South (26%), Midwest (18%) and Northeast (18%). The number of Latino non-citizens has declined by more than 10 percent during this period, contrary to perceptions of a border crisis, according to the LDC report. Meanwhile, the number of naturalized Latinos has increased by almost 42%.

Although the overall Latin American population growth rate was lower during this period than it had been in previous decades, it was nearly double that of black Americans. The growth rate of the white population was slightly below zero, Pew reports. The census office projected that it will decline by nearly 19 million people by 2060, while the Hispanic population will increase by more than 93%, to reach 56 million.

COVID-19 is a powerful (and hopefully rare) example of an unforeseen event that could dramatically alter long-term predictions of population growth. Even so, there is no doubt that Latinos will represent a larger share of new adults entering the workforce over the coming decades.

“In many ways, the future will be inextricably linked to the Latino community,” says Valdez.


Latin American property is developing above national standards. (PMA)

Share capital

Latin Americans have more than numbers to contribute to the workforce, says Bill Emmons, assistant vice president and economist in the Supervision Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The Latino GDP report highlights their economic gains, but they also have various forms of what he calls “social capital” which are sources of resilience.

There is the ability of Latinos to emerge in a “V” shape from previous economic downturns. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made mention of it during a virtual summit convened by the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce. “Hispanic entrepreneurs can pull us out of a crisis again,” she said. “I know that Hispanic workers can fuel our recovery, potentially in an even bigger way than a decade ago, provided we remove the long-standing obstacles that stood in your way.”

Factors Emmons sees behind this resilience include higher marriage rates and multi-adult, often multigenerational households that can provide support and a 35% increase in college degrees over the past five years.

Latinos also have higher rates of self-reported good health. The fact that they have experienced higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than whites does not necessarily contradict self-reported good health, Emmons says. Recent research attributes these findings to the fact that their jobs and housing pose disproportionate risks.

The combination of increased risk and increased support found in multigenerational households is something of a paradox in the COVID-19 era. “It offers a lot of resilience and strength in some ways, but it also increases vulnerability,” says Emmons. “This is an issue that state and local governments may want to address as part of housing discussions.”


Historically, immigration has been correlated with GDP growth. The impacts of the pandemic have disrupted this pattern. (PMA)

The GDP ecosystem

Sol Trujillo, whose business background includes serving as CEO of three companies with a market capitalization of $ 50 billion, co-founded LDC with former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros. He was a trade policy advisor to the Clinton and Bush administrations and served on numerous state economic development councils.

“Over the past decade, Latinos have provided almost 80% of all new net workers in the country,” he says. “This was in part due to immigration at the start of the decade and in part to the birth rates of previous immigrants.”

“We have between eight and 11 unfilled jobs,” says Trujillo. “And right now we have a deficit of opportunities to fill jobs, which will eventually have to go elsewhere if we can’t fill because the job needs to be done.”

The most important correlating variable is the growth rate of the labor force, not the unemployment rate and not labor force participation, according to Trujillo.

Immigration has been part of the “magic formula” for growth for the past 40 to 50 years, he said, pointing to high growth rates in consumer spending and GDP over administrations over the years. from which a large number of immigrants have been admitted to the country.

Businesses, communities and government operations all depend on talent, and Trujillo’s experience running businesses on continents of the world has taught him the value of looking for it everywhere.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and those who want to shut it down don’t understand the competitive and innovative capabilities that come with people who don’t see it the same way – we can create more wealth per capita than we do. doesnt matter if we continue what has been our strength.


Latino students have been earning post-secondary degrees at a higher rate than other segments of the population for a decade. (PMA)

Perception, reality and progress

The LDC conducts opinion polls every four years, says Ana Valdez. “In 2012, most Americans thought Latinos were takers; in 2021, most Americans think Latinos are contributors, but they are invisible. “

Schools can help change misperceptions by assuming that Latinos have the same native abilities as other students and treat them as talented individuals who can learn, says Trujillo. Post-secondary education can include programs developed in partnership with industry, such as community college programs that equip students with 21st century skills.

It’s public policy 1A that if you want your state to grow, you have to grow the economy, says David Hayes Bautista. “Just change the priority and understand how we will all be better off investing in this population, and this is not for positive action: if you want economic growth, here is a population that can do it. “



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