The economic and political strength of the Latino population is reshaping America.
“We are the next baby boom for the United States as far as wealth and household income growth,” said Carlos Gomez, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City. The change is positive, Gomez said as the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.
Both political parties in the last presidential election included Latinos as key speakers, and the tone of immigration reform has changed from deportation to amnesty. Latinos are registering to vote in higher numbers and their participation at the polls is growing.
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, said the Latino vote is changing the outcome of elections nationwide. “Latinos are poised to make a difference,” said Murguia, whose organization will have its convention in Kansas City in 2015 to “shine a light on Latino growth and empowerment.”
A Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project notes that the Latino population in the U.S. since 1970 grew nearly sixfold, rising from 9.1 million to 53 million by 2012.
At 17 percent of the U.S. population now, Hispanics are America’s largest minority group. By 2060, the Latino population is to be 129 million, or 31 percent of the U.S. total. But don’t blame the growth on immigration.
“Between 1980 and 2000, immigration was the main driver of Latino population growth as the Latino immigrant population boomed from 4.2 million to 14.1 million,” the Pew notes. “However since 2000, the primary source of Hispanic population growth has swung from immigration to native births. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 9.6 million Hispanic births in the U.S., while the number of newly arrived immigrants was 6.5 million. Overall, U.S. births alone accounted for 60 percent of Hispanic population growth.
“These opposing trends — the rise of U.S.-born and the slowdown in immigrant population growth — have begun to reshape the adult Hispanic population. Just as the slowdown in immigration has occurred, the number of U.S.-born Hispanics entering adulthood is beginning to accelerate. Today, some 800,000 young U.S.-born Hispanics enter adulthood each year, but in the coming decades, that number will rise to more than a million annually.”