American Prosperity Runs Through The U.S. Latino Community

We’ve been beating this drum since we started NewsTaco, looking at it from every pertinent angle: Latinos are surging and now form the most important and fastest growing part of the U.S. labor force.

That fact was empirically backed this week by the Pew Research Center that studied the matter and found that Latinos will, in fact, account for 76% of the growth in the labor force through 2020.  The Pew results were gleaned from numbers gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For many of us this is not a big surprise. Here’s what Pew had to say about why this shift is happening:

One major reason is that the Hispanic population is growing rapidly due to births and immigration. At the same time, the aging of the non-Hispanic white population is expected to reduce their numbers in the labor force.

There’s more. The BLS also counts the number of people, age 16 or older, that either have a job or are looking for one, they call it labor force participation. In 2010 that number was 64.7%, but for Latinos that same year it was 67.5% — that’s because Latinos are younger and have a higher percentage of immigrants in their ranks. But this thing gets even wonkier. According to Pew, the BLS says overall, in the next 10 years, the labor force will grow at a slower pace than in decades past (the numbers, if you want to take the deep dive: 11.3 million labor growth from 2000 to 2010 and 10.5 million labor growth from 2010 to 2020).

Economically, the recessions in 2001 and 2007-2009 pulled down the labor force participation rate by generally frustrating people’s efforts to find work. Demographically, baby boomers—the giant generation born between 1946 and 1964—are now entering their retirement years.

So where do Latinos stand in all this?

Hispanics will account for the vast majority—74%—of the 10.5 million workers added to the labor force from 2010 to 2020. That share is higher than in the previous two decades. Hispanics accounted for 36% of the total increase in the labor force from 1990 to 2000 and for 54% from 2000 to 2010.

I agree, it is a little dizzying. But here’s the point: the growth of the Latino population overall and the subsequent growth of Latinos in the labor force highlights the urgency for changes to education and training, access to political policy making, and the importance of Latino-owned small business.

To draw a simple picture, Latinos will soon carry the nation’s work force and its contribution to the nation’s economy on their shoulders. So when we talk about Latino equity in education, Latino access to the political process, inclusion in the nation’s business boardrooms, and help for Latino small businesses , we’re talking about issues of national concern, not just the concerns of a cultural slice of the American whole. We’ve got the evidence now, in real numbers. American prosperity runs through the U.S. Latino community.

The question for us all is, what are we going to do about it?

[Photo By Kamal H.]

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