Latino population, wealth expected to rise in U.S.

07/11/2014 10:55 AM

07/11/2014 12:03 PM

It is unfortunate, but perhaps predictable, that Latinos in the United States are targeted and being scapegoated in the political uproar over immigration.

First of all, their numbers are growing at a phenomenal rate. According to a Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, the Latino population in the United States since 1970 has grown sixfold, rising from 9.1 million to 53 million by 2012.

At 17 percent of the U.S. population now, Hispanics surpass African Americans as the country’s largest minority group. Generally when a minority group’s numbers hit and surpass the 10 percent threshold, the majority in the U.S. becomes very anxious, agitated and nervous.

It’s at that point when bias, bigotry, racism, discrimination, prejudice and scapegoating occur so frequently that it’s impossible to ignore or dismiss.

By 2060, the Latino population is projected to be 129 million, or 31 percent of the U.S. total. But don’t blame the growth of the Hispanic population on immigration — whether legal or illegal.

“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 Research Hispanic Trends Project 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 (births and immigration only during the period).

“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 the country. But that also may add to the agitation of the majority in the U.S.

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 U.S. Hispanic families. The decline in median wealth sustained by the entire population was 39 percent between 2007 and 2010. For Latino families it was 32 percent.

The drop also contributed to a fall off in Latino immigration into the United States by 2010, the Pew study noted. But the wealth growth among Hispanics will be triggered partly by the faster native-born population growth and a faster growth in average household wealth, the Federal Reserve Bank study notes.

That could be attributed to the strong work ethic among many Latinos in the United States.

Latino families by 2025 are expected to own between $2.5 trillion and $4.4 trillion of wealth, up from $1.4 trillion in 2010. All estimates are adjusted for inflation and are comparable to 2010 figures.

The average level of wealth among Hispanic families would 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.

The country will benefit under the projection. Overall that should help ease Americans’ anxiety over their Latino neighbors.

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