U.S. Future “Unthinkable” Without Hispanic Population

May 2012

MIAMI – The enormous demographic growth and buying power of the Hispanic population give this community a key role in the present and future of the United States, experts in Miami agreed on Thursday.

The figures and statistics confirm that “it’s going to be impossible to think about the future of the U.S. without thinking about Hispanics,” emphasized Leo F. Estrada, UCLA associate professor or urban planning.

With more than 50 million Hispanics in the country, a fact that makes them the largest minority in the United States – and the fastest growing – the presence of this group is always showing “areas of growth,” added Estrada, who participated in the biannual conference of the Cuban American National Council.

In his comments at a session on Hispanic Demographics and Consumer Trends, Estrada analyzed figures and statistics that draw a new map of the country’s demographic reality and the opportunities that are opening up for companies that know how to interpret and assimilate these changes.

He put into contest various figures, including the fact that one out of every seven people in the United States is Hispanic, albeit with the precipitous growth of this community “we’ll rapidly get to 20 percent and we will continue advancing.”

The main growth of the Hispanic community is being registered in states like South Carolina, with a 148 percent growth rate for this ethnic group, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas, although 50 percent of the Latino population lives in California, Texas and Florida.

He noted that between 1990 and 2011 the purchasing power of Latinos grew by 457 percent, compared with 11 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 173 percent for African Americans.

This is a situation that is not only transforming the country’s present character, but “will also delineate its future,” said Monica Gil, vice president for Communication and Public Affairs at The Nielsen Company, agreeing with Estrada.

The sum of all these factors regarding the Hispanic population, the median age for which is 27, compared with a national median of 37, is “defining the U.S. culture,” Gil emphasized.

She characterized the Hispanic population as a very diverse community, with its own consumption and leisure habits and a very well-defined “cultural sustainability” where 60 percent of adult Latinos want to be bicultural.

Estrada insisted that this change in the U.S. cultural and economic map is “very difficult to accept for the population” of the country, in general.

“They are changes that have happened so rapidly that society has not adapted” to them, something that has facilitated the rise of “groups with anti-immigrant sentiments” that lobby against the use of Spanish, he said. EFE