The economic and political strength of the Latino population is reshaping America.
“We are the next baby boom for the United States as far as wealth and household income growth,” said Carlos Gomez, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City. The change is positive, Gomez said as the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.
Both political parties in the last presidential election included Latinos as key speakers, and the tone of immigration reform has changed from deportation to amnesty. Latinos are registering to vote in higher numbers and their participation at the polls is growing.
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, said the Latino vote is changing the outcome of elections nationwide. “Latinos are poised to make a difference,” said Murguia, whose organization will have its convention in Kansas City in 2015 to “shine a light on Latino growth and empowerment.”
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A Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project notes that the Latino population in the U.S. since 1970 grew nearly sixfold, rising from 9.1 million to 53 million by 2012.
At 17 percent of the U.S. population now, Hispanics are America’s largest minority group. By 2060, the Latino population is to be 129 million, or 31 percent of the U.S. total. But don’t blame the growth on immigration.
“Between 1980 and 2000, immigration was the main driver of Latino population growth as the Latino immigrant population boomed from 4.2 million to 14.1 million,” the Pew notes. “However since 2000, the primary source of Hispanic population growth has swung from immigration to native births. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 9.6 million Hispanic births in the U.S., while the number of newly arrived immigrants was 6.5 million. Overall, U.S. births alone accounted for 60 percent of Hispanic population growth.
“These opposing trends — the rise of U.S.-born and the slowdown in immigrant population growth — have begun to reshape the adult Hispanic population. Just as the slowdown in immigration has occurred, the number of U.S.-born Hispanics entering adulthood is beginning to accelerate. Today, some 800,000 young U.S.-born Hispanics enter adulthood each year, but in the coming decades, that number will rise to more than a million annually.”
That’s where another study provides insight into what the growing Latino adult population will do for America. The Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports that wealth held by Latino families could triple within 10 years if trends of the last 20 years resume. The Great Recession hurt Latino families.
The decline in median wealth in the entire population was 39 percent between 2007 and 2010. For Latino families it was 32 percent. The drop contributed to a fall-off in Latino immigration by 2010, the Pew study noted. But the growth in wealth among Hispanics will be triggered partly by increases in the native-born population, the Federal Reserve Bank study notes.
Gomez said the majority of the growth in teenagers between now and 2020 will be Latinos. Like baby boomers when they were young, Hispanics will be big purchasers of cars and homes. They will be the next CEOs, doctors and elected officials.
Latino families by 2025 are expected to own between $2.5 trillion and $4.4 trillion in assets, up from $1.4 trillion in 2010. All estimates are adjusted for inflation and are comparable to 2010 figures. The average wealth among Hispanic families is to rise from 22 percent among all families in 2010 to 26.5 percent in 2025. The wealth of the median Hispanic family is expected to increase faster than the wealth of the median family in the overall population, the Federal Reserve Bank study said.
Kansas City will see some of the benefits next year during the La Raza convention. That’s positive for the entire metro area.
To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to Ldiuguid@kcstar.com.