Every time I go to my local Hispanic supermarket I see a woman outside selling tamales from her vehicle. Sometimes she is with her kids, sometimes alone, but always working hard. I understand that by looking at her people might not realize what is the real impact of Latinos and their main role in the US economy.
To many Americans, she is just a part of the narrative, of the poor immigrant that comes to live off the government’s dime. The difference between those who think that way and me is that they don’t see her anywhere else, she is invisible, and so am I for that matter, even when we are right in front of them.
As a communications professional who has worked on marketing and advertising campaigns targeting Hispanic consumers, I must confess I’ve had a privileged position to see research with numbers that are undeniable about Latinos and their main role in the US economy. Despite that, there is still a lot of misinformation and widespread misconceptions on the real impact of those numbers.
The reality is that from the hands of the many humble Latinos, their hard-earned dollars are poured into their families, and that means shopping for Quinceañeras, the latest smartphones and accessories, and overall having their dollars go back into the economy. Furthermore, the numbers are also the result of the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of Latinos that continues to help create new jobs.
Despite those numbers, watching the news and the political campaign unfold you would think that the case is different. It is clear that other Americans and politicians are out of touch with reality, and cannot see the importance of the population that is carrying the country’s economy and which growing numbers only speak to the relevance they have in our financial present and future.
The 2012 report called State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative, states ‘Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic segment expected to grow 167 percent from 2010 to 2050, compared to 42 percent for the total population, if you add to that the fact that we have the youngest generation, it is easy to conclude that the estimates are solid.
Myths vs. Facts: Latinos and their main role in the US economy
Myth: Latinos Abuse Public Benefits
The notion that Latinos are looking to ‘cash-in’ the public benefits and rather live off government programs has been widespread.
Fact: Entrepreneurial Spirit
The reality is that Hispanics are entrepreneurial in nature, which is proving very beneficial not only to the community but for the country at large. The creation of Latino-owned businesses continues to rise, which generates more jobs and helps to strengthen the economy. This is a trait that is at the base of the American mentality of pulling yourself from your bootstraps and working hard to pursue your dreams. Just one of the ways in which American Latinos show that their main interests and concerns are not different from that of other Americans.
Myth: Latinos don’t get involve/don’t assimilate
For as long as I’ve lived in this country, I’ve heard about Latinos not getting involve or not being unable to ‘assimilate’.
Fact: Americans & Involved
This is one of the biggest myths, since American-born Latinos represent 65% of the Hispanic population and therefore, don’t need to ‘assimilate’ as they are as much a part of the American society as anyone. Also, if given a voice, Latinos use it to empower the community and to prosper. A good example of this is social media, with American Latinos being the youngest cohort in the US; it is no surprise that they are highly involved in social media. However, it is not only about having fun over on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope or Snapchat, it is also about the power to raise concerns and having discussions about national issues. Moreover, Latinos are also creating entrepreneurial ventures in the digital space, which is gaining them recognition and new opportunities that turn into profit and helps grow the US economy.
Myth: Latinos send their money overseas
Although it is true that Latinos, particularly immigrants, send money to support family members back in Latin America, the reality of the spending behavior of Latinos couldn’t be any clearer.
Fact: Impressive Purchasing Power
With 1.5 trillion last year and expected to reach to 1.7 by 2017, the Hispanic market purchasing power is larger than the economy of the majority of the world countries, as just 15 nations have a larger purchasing power than the Latino community. Moreover, its growth is moving at a 70% faster pace than that of Americans as a whole. That is reflected within the car, telecommunications and retail industries, to name a few.
As a community, we are all concerned about the state of the economy and how it impacts other crucial areas like education and health. Our contributions are helping shape the future in all areas, and yet again, we either hear a different story or don’t hear the story at all.
What other myths have you heard about Latinos and the economy?Let's embrace diversity and create social change! © Dania Santana ~ Embracing Diversity
Multiculturalism, Diversity & Inclusion Expert | Author | Speaker