Hispanic Heritage Month: celebrating economic power

Hugo Balta


Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate culture – certainly, but also accomplishments and contributions. Contrary to the negative narrative that Hispanics-Latinos, including the undocumented immigrants, exhausts resources – all evidence to the contrary. They’re driving the prosperity of the U.S. economy.

The total buying power of the U.S. Hispanic-Latino population was at $1.539 trillion in 2018, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s business school. That figure is expected to grow nearly $400 billion more by 2023.

A New American Economy (NAE) study shows that New Hampshire’s more than 136,000 Hispanic-Latino population represents $248 billion in purchasing power.

A Newswise report reveals that Mexican-Americans comprise the largest of the Hispanic-Latino subgroups, accounting for $881 billion in buying power or 57.2 percent of the total. Puerto Ricans are the second-largest group in terms of buying power, commanding $158 billion or 10.3 percent of the Hispanic-Latino market. Central Americans are the third-largest, with a $137 billion market share or 8.9 percent of the total. South Americans rank fourth, with 8.7 percent ($135 billion) of the U.S. Hispanic-Latino market, and Cuban-Americans are fifth, accounting for $83 billion.

“Hispanics represent the biggest economic and talent growth lever for the U.S. economy this decade. We all depend on this constituency for the U.S. economy and jobs to continue to grow, and that requires that we help more Hispanics with education, economic development, and leadership advancement opportunities” said Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner, IBM Services. “Success will take all of us — corporate leaders, NGOs, innovators, entrepreneurs, and average citizens—working together,” he told The Salamanca Press.

In recent years, entrepreneurship among Hispanics-Latinos has been growing rapidly. As past NAE research has indicated, the number of entrepreneurs tripled, going from 577,000 to more than 2 million. Among foreign-born, the growth in the population of entrepreneurs was
particularly notable. The number of self-employed immigrants more than quadrupled between 1990 and 2012—reaching 1.4 million by 2012. Mexican
immigrants in particular were a strong component of this growth.

Looking at the pattern illustrated in the study, it is clear that the Hispanic-Latino population—and in particular, immigrants—have continued to play an important role in starting new companies and creating American

While the economic opportunity that Hispanics-Latinos represent is positive, a survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value revealed startling insights such as:

  • Only 30% of Hispanic junior managers say that they feel they have access to mentorship, programs or on the job training.
  • Only 20% say that they are empowered to overcome their professional challenges.
  • 67% say they believe they have to work harder than others to succeed because of their Hispanic identity.

If the U.S. Latino population were a country, the GDP growth rate of the Latino market would be the third-highest growth rate among all global economies.

This Hispanic Heritage Month celebrate more than just the community’s rich history and culture – toast the influence of the more than 60 million U.S. Hispanics-Latinos are having to the country’s economic and entrepreneurial landscape.