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Latinos: The eighth world economy

November 10, 2021
  • Business Immigration
  • Individual Immigration

Most impressively, U.S. Latino GDP grew 21 percent faster than India’s and 30 percent faster than China’s.

Like millions of immigrants, Jaime Lucero arrived in the United States without a dollar in his bag, but full of dreams.

It was 1975, when Lucero, born in 1957 in the Mexican state of Puebla, crossed the border without papers and decided to try his luck in New York. Speaking no English and a graduate of high school alone, he got his first job as a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant in Queens. Six years later, thanks to his hard work and entrepreneurial vision, he achieved his first dream: to buy a used van and start his own delivery business.

In 1993, Lucero took another decisive step in his career as an entrepreneur by creating Golden and Silver Inc., one of the largest importers and distributors of branded clothing in the United States. By 2002 the company had a fleet of 25 vans and 47 customers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and JC Penney. Today, Lucero’s businesses employs thousands of people in various parts of the country.

Lucero has received multiple recognitions, both for his business leadership and philanthropic work. Since 2014, the Institute of Mexican Studies at Lehman College has been named after him. The businessman is founder and president of “Casa Puebla Nueva York”, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes Mexican culture.

He is also the creator of Fuerza Migrante, a multiplatform dedicated to promoting the economic and political power of Mexicans in the United States. “Education and civic engagement are essential for our community to reach its full potential,” he says.

While Lucero’s economic success is outstanding, his desire to excel is not an isolated case but the common denominator of millions of Latino immigrants.

Persistence and hard work

For Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of CESLAC (Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture), thanks to his persistence and hard work, the economic performance of Latinos in the United States is impressive.

A recent study entitled “2021 State Latino GDP Report”, of which Hayes-Bautista is co-author, reveals that the GDP of the Latino population in this country amounted to 2.6 trillion dollars in 2018. This means that, if Latinos were an independent nation, they would rank eighth worldwide, with a GDP higher than countries such as Brazil, Italy or South Korea.

Most impressively, U.S. Latino GDP grew 21 percent faster than India’s and 30 percent faster than China’s.

These figures, according to Hayes-Bautista, contradict the entrenched stereotype among certain anti-immigrant sectors that Latinos come to the United States to commit crimes or to live on public assistance. “We are not lazy, nor criminals, we come to work and contribute and this study proves it,” he says.

Increase in consumption

Much of Latinos’ extraordinary economic performance is due to consumption. Between 2010 and 2018, according to the study, actual consumption in this group increased 135 percent faster than that of non-Latinos. The total consumption in 2018 among Latinos residing in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas was $1.36 trillion. These eight states are home to nearly three-quarters of the nation’s Latinos.

Hayes-Bautista explains that the rapid growth in consumption is essentially due to accelerated advances in the growth of the Latino population and its strong participation in the labor market, especially in the education and health care (16.0 percent), professional and commercial services (12.6 percent) and government (8.2 percent) sectors.

Regarding the growth of the Latino population, the report indicates that, between 2010 and 2018, in California the non-Latino population grew by 3 percent, while Latinos increased 13 percent. This growth, Hayes-Bautista clarifies, was not driven by migration but by a high fertility rate in this group.

The report also highlights that from 2010 to 2018, the educational attainment of Latinos grew at a rate 2.5 times faster than that of non-Latinos. During that period, the labor force participation rate for California Latinos averaged 4.6 percentage points higher than that of non-Latinos. In 2018, Latino labor force participation was overall 5.0 percentage points higher.

Latinos in general and, specifically in California, also have a longer life expectancy than non-Latino whites (83.6 years compared to 80.8). This is because, according to Hayes-Bautista, they take better care of their health. “In the case of the pandemic,” he clarifies, “Latinos were one of the hardest hit groups because they did not have the same access to COVID-19 vaccines as others and because they could not be confined to their homes because many are essential workers.”

The study’s most important takeaway, Hayes-Bautista notes, is that Latinos are a huge source of economic vitality for the United States because of their hard work, family values and strong health profile.