Latinos may be the key to future US economic growth, study argues

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The economic contribution of the U.S. Latino community will become increasingly important moving forward to the economy, according to a new study released Thursday by California Lutheran University.

GDP among U.S. Latinos increased to $2.3 trillion in 2017, up from $1.7 trillion in 2010, the study found. On a compounded annual basis, that’s the third-highest growth rate among all global economies during that time. GDP among Latinos also grew at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy in that time. Some of the factors driving this outperformance are a high labor-force participation, large population growth and increasing consumer spending.

The report comes at a time of uncertainty around the overall U.S. economy. Growth in the country’s manufacturing sector is near its lowest level since 2016. Several market experts and ultra-wealthy investors are also bracing for a recession in 2020.

But at the same time, job openings are near a record and employers are having a tough time to fill them.

“Latinos currently are and will increasingly become a critical foundation of support for the new American Economy,” the study says.

Latinos accounted for 82% of the growth in U.S. labor-force participation between 2010 and 2017 despite accounting for less than 20% of the country’s overall population. Labor-force participation among U.S. Latinos hovered near 68% in 2017, the study said. That’s about 6 percentage points higher than non-U.S. Latinos. The overall U.S. participation rate was at 63.2% in August.

The study was released on Thursday in conjunction with the L’Attitude conference on Latino business in San Diego hosted by the The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

Labor-force participation encompasses people who are employed and the unemployed who are actively looking for a job. A higher participation rate usually points to increased confidence in the labor market.

The Latino population in the U.S. is also growing fast, increasing the group’s economic role in the country. Population growth among Latinos has been steady around 2% between 2011 and 2018. For the rest of the population, however, it has been below 0.5% in that time. Across the U.S., population growth hit an 80-year low in 2018.

But the Trump administration has been cracking down on U.S. immigration. Earlier this year, the administration announced a plan that would make it harder for immigrants to become citizens.

Latino consumption is also outpacing that of the rest of the U.S. Between 2010 and 2017, consumption among U.S. Latinos increased by 42%, the study said. Consumption also grew 72% faster among Latinos than non-U.S. Latinos in that time.

These factors, among others, have made U.S. Latino GDP the eight-largest in the world, the data shows. “At current growth rates, the Latino GDP will move from eighth largest GDP to seventh, growing to exceed the size of France’s GDP within the next 10 years.”

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