May 11, 2011 | Hispanic Business | Original Article

Growing Hispanic Presence

It's all in the numbers -- 50.5 million Hispanics, a 43 percent population increase in 10 years. One of every six people in the United States is Hispanic. Of the total Hispanic population, 17.2 million are younger than 18. One in four children in the country is Hispanic. Hispanics accounted for more than half the growth in this nation over the last decade.

The findings of the 2010 census confirm that Hispanics have become a major influence across the nation's economic, social and political fronts. The findings also confirm that a major demographic shift is under way, the same kind of shift other ethnic groups took in the late 19th century and through a good portion of the 20th century. In fact, some people feel it is more than a shift.

In an April 1 interview on NPR, Jorge Ramos, the co-anchor of the nightly newscast "Noticiero Univision," said, "It's truly a demographic revolution ... and it's already having enormous impact economically and politically."

Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), wrote in an April 22 Op- Ed piece for The Wall Street Journal, "Every issue that Americans care about -- whether education, health care, Social Security or the economy -- involves the Latino community."

Increasingly, this demographic revolution comes from a younger, more involved Hispanic population.

"We are tech savvy," Hernan Lopez, president of Fox International Channels, wrote in the March 14 issue of Advertising Age. "We spend more time on mobile devices than our non-Hispanic peers. We use social media as a means to communicate, express ourselves and create, and we spend more time online than non-Hispanics."

Key Ingredient to the Economy

A younger, savvier Hispanic population has much to offer the United States in terms of the economy.

Juan Solana, chief economist for HispanicBusiness magazine, sees in the increased Hispanic population "the potential for a future of economic growth and financial stability in the United States."

There are several major impacts Hispanics will have.

"A younger and educated labor force can contribute to mend the financial challenges that the U.S. economy will face in the coming decades," Mr. Solana said.

The Hispanic impact will not merely be on the production side, despite Hispanics becoming a growing presence in the U.S. workforce.

"Substantial potential growth lies in consumer markets due to the demographic and professional progress of Hispanics," Mr. Solana said. "Opportunities arise from seizing these emerging domestic markets, but threats come from ignoring them and allowing competitors to gain a stronghold in this segment of increasingly affluent consumers."

The Hispanic purchasing power was put at $1 trillion in 2010 and estimated by HispanTelligence, the research arm of HispanicBusiness magazine, to be $1.3 trillion by 2015.

But beyond the marketplace, Hispanics also will be a strong voice in other areas of the economy.

"The current debate about U.S. financial obligations as the baby-boom generation starts to retire would be more dramatic than they already are without this population growth fueled by Hispanics," Mr. Solana said.

Not only will Hispanics be a potent force in driving the material side of the economy, they will help shore up another segment that has shown a decrease over the years.