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Hispanic Population and its Impact on the Economy and Political Process

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    According to the 2010 Census, 308.7 million people resided in the United States on April 1, 2010, of which 50.5 million (or 16 percent) were of Hispanic origin. The Hispanic population increased from 35.3 million in 2000 when this group made up 13 percent of the total population. More than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.

    The Hispanic population increase of 15.2 million between 2000 and 2010 constituted over half of the 27.3 million increase in the total population of the United States. During that time, the Hispanic population grew by a full 43 percent, which was four times the growth in the overall population of 10 percent.

    The Hispanic population grew in every region and most significantly in the South and Midwest. The South experienced a growth of 57 percent in its Hispanic population, which was four times the growth rate of the total population in the South (14 percent). Significant growth also occurred in the Midwest, with the Hispanic population increasing by 49 percent. This was more than twelve times the growth rate of the total population in the Midwest (4 percent). In 2010, 37.6 million, or 75 per­cent, of Hispanics lived in the eight states with Hispanic populations of one million or more (California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, and Colorado).

    For those of us who follow politics, it is significant that the twelve swing states in the 2012 elections are Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Michigan and New Mexico. Florida and Colorado are swing states which have one million or more Hispanics and all the others also have large Hispanic populations.

    Democrats will need to get out the Hispanic vote and attempt to keep Hispanic voters in the Democratic column. Their determination to do so is reflected in the 2012 Democratic Convention speaker schedule which will focus on two themes: the crucial Hispanic vote and the 1990s when a Democratic president oversaw an economic expansion. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will deliver the keynote address on September 4, the first day of the three-day meeting in Charlotte. Castro is the first Hispanic American to fill that convention slot.

    Republicans do not need to win the Hispanic vote. If Republicans can garner between 25-35% of the Hispanic vote, they can win state-wide elections and could swing the presidential election to their column. The challenge for Republicans will involve curbing the "Nativists" in the party. Nativism is a sociopolitical policy, especially in the United States in the 19th century, favoring the interests of established inhabitants over those of immigrants.

    Ultimately, the greatest impact of the growing Hispanic population will be on the economy and the workforce. In 1990, according to a University of Georgia study, Hispanic spending power stood at $200 billion a year. In 2011, Hispanic spending power was estimated at $1.2 trillion a year according to the U.S. Census. Hispanic spending power represents 11% of the total spending power of the US population according to HispanTelligence.

    At nearly 23 million workers, Hispanics constitute 15 percent of the U.S. labor force (2011). By 2020, Latinos are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force. In addition, higher-paying management and professional occupations are the fastest-growing job categories for Hispanics, propelled by growing educational attainment.

    As their educational achievements steadily increase, Hispanics are slowly closing the educational gap with non-Hispanics with each successive generation. Educational gains will play a key role in today's global economy as Hispanics boost their influence and burgeoning purchasing power.

    Locally, Hispanics are a force. In New Jersey, Hispanics make up 18.1% of the state's population. There are approximately 1.5 million Hispanics in the state. In New York State, about two in three Hispanics (68 percent) reside in the five boroughs that make up New York City: 741,000 in the Bronx, 614,000 in Queens, 496,000 in Brooklyn, 404,000 in Manhattan, and 81,000 in Staten Island.

    Both nationally and regionally, all of our institutions will need to understand this seismic demographic shift. Political parties will need to forge policies and platforms that appeal to Hispanics. Whether it's a political party seeking voters for its ideas or a company seeking consumers for its products, our concepts of marketing will need to be re-directed and re-focused on this demographic. Employers will find that positions at all levels of their organization will be filled by Hispanics. And as more Hispanics are elected to public office or occupy more positions of influence in US industry, Hispanics will help mold the direction of our economy and our nation.

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