November 23, 2023
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Our View: CLU researchers tell an important story of the Latino economy


When California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Research rolled out its first Latino GDP report a number of years ago, we were impressed with this partnership between CLU and UCLA.

Over the years, CERF director Matthew Fienup and researcher Dan Hamilton, along with UCLA’s David Hayes-Bautista, have run the academic equivalent of a marathon. They have refined their methodology to produce Latino GDP reports at the state and metropolitan level, including a recent report for Los Angeles.

They’ve found a major sponsor in Bank of America, caught the attention of Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell and this month, they are slated to appear at L’Attitude, a symposium in San Diego for Latino leaders, along with former President Barack Obama.

CERF’s success builds on the economic principles established by former CERF director Bill Watkins, who argued persuasively that the contributions of immigrants were crucial to America’s position as the global economic leader. They have proven that Latinos are academic high achievers, have a strong work ethic and highly entrepreneurial. They have become an economic force to be reckoned with — U.S. Latinos alone represent GDP that is larger than many countries.

Along with a stellar record for its economic forecasts in Wall Street Journal rankings, CERF’s Latino GDP research is carving out a national reputation for the CLU School of Management.

“It’s very clear that everything that has been positive in the U.S. economy in recent times is due to the hard work of the Latino cohort — regardless of state or metro area,” wrote School of Management Dean Gerhard Apfelthaler in an email.

The Latino GDP project also complements CLU’s efforts to diversify its student population and its designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution, he added.

Along these lines, we support the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in its effort to have Gov. Gavin Newsom sign Assembly Bill 2019 into law. This bill would give small, independent businesses greater access to state contracts by setting a goal of 25% for state procurement from small business and establish reporting benchmarks along the way to reaching the goal.

According to the Hispanic Chamber’s research, 98.9% of businesses, representing roughly half the workforce, are small businesses. Of the 3.9 million small businesses, 1.6 million are minority-owned.


The U.S. News & World report rankings are out and they prove conclusively that the region is punching well above its weight when it comes to academic excellence — and affordability.

The region’s three state universities — UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and CSU Channel Islands – have achieved ratings that reinforce the idea that the first two are national powerhouses and that regionally, Channel Islands is a standout. CLU, Westmont College and Thomas Aquinas College all attained significant marks.

There is a bit of controversy about how some universities submit data and a bit more transparency would probably strengthen the ranking process. But we don’t think it would change the direction of the results all that much. Or the fact that our public universities are some of the best values around when it comes to getting a degree without piling up a mountain of debt.