May 21, 2024
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Latinos drive most of U.S. GDP growth

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Matthew Fienup (left) and David Hayes-Bautista at a question-and-answer session on U.S. Latino GDP at a program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. (Mike Harris / PCBT staff)

The economic contributions of Latinos in the United State are large and rapidly growing, according to a report that was the focus of a March 29 program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

“As a summary statistic for the economic performance of Latinos in the United States, the 2020 Latino GDP is extraordinary,” the executive summary of the study, the 2022 LDC U.S. Latino GDP Report, says. LDC is the Latino Donor Collaborative, which sponsored the report.

The total economic output (or GDP) of Latinos in the United States was $2.8 trillion in 2020, up from $2.1 trillion in 2015 and $1.7 trillion in 2010, the summary says.

The study was authored by Dan Hamilton, director of economics for the university’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, Matthew Fienup, the center’s executive director, David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, and Paul Hsu, a faculty member of the department of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Using the term “Hispanic or Latino,” the U.S. Census Bureau says that segment of population in the U.S. grew from 50.5 million (16.3% of the population) in 2010 to 62.1 million (18.7%) in 2020.

If Latinos living in the U.S. were an independent country, the U.S. Latino GDP would be the fifth largest in the world, bigger than the GDPs of the United Kingdom, India or France, the report’s summary says.

“The GDP of Latinos is very, very large,” Fienup said at the program at the university’s Preus-Brandt Forum. “It’s also rapidly growing.”

During the period that was studied, from 2010 to 2020, Latino GDP grew nearly three times faster than non-Latino GDP, Fienup said.

“It’s unmistakable. Latinos are drivers of economic growth in the United States,” he said, noting that their economic growth share far outweighs their population share.

“Their hard work, persistence, bettering themselves, bettering their families and communities, spins off benefits for all in the United States,” he said.

From 2010 to 2020, Latinos enjoyed significantly higher wage and salary income growth than non-Latinos, the summary says.

During those years, Latino real income grew an average of 4.3% a year compared to 2.1% for non-Latinos, according to the synopsis.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, it tremendously impacted Latinos, Fienup said.

“They were more likely to catch COVID in many cases because they were working in front-line jobs where they were exposed to the disease,” he said. “They were more likely to die from COVID than non-Latinos.”

Yet examining the impacts of the pandemic on Latinos through the lens of Latino GDP reveals a very different story, the summary says.

In 2020, the U.S. Latino GDP jumped three spots, from the eighth largest to the fifth largest, according to the summary.

Also in 2020, Latino real wage and salary income surged by 6.7%, while non-Latino income shrank by 1.1%, the synopsis says.

“Latino incomes surged due to Latinos’ tremendous work ethic during the pandemic,” the summary says.

In 2020, the Latino labor force participation rate premium hit a new all-time high, according to the summary.

U.S. Latinos were 6.5 percentage points more likely than their non-Latino counterparts to be actively working or seeking work, the summary says.

Real U.S. Latino GDP contracted in 2020 by 0.8%, but that compared favorably to a 4.4% contraction for non-Latino GDP, according to the summary.

“As a result of the hard work and persistence of Latinos, Latino economic performance during the pandemic year of 2020 was strong by any comparison,” the synopsis says.

That’s not to make light of the hardship that Latinos endured during the pandemic, the summary notes.

“Because of a historic lack of investment in health infrastructure for Latino communities, because of their strong work ethic and unique family structure, Latinos were among the groups hardest hit by COVID-19,” the summary says.

For instance, COVID became the number one cause of death for Latinos as opposed to the number three cause of death nationally, according to the summary.

Besides the report’s national data for Latino GDP, the study includes such data for the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim metropolitan statistical area, but not for the Ventura/Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo counties region.

Fienup told the Business Times that such a study has not yet been commissioned.

“But what we see in these coastal communities in California is that the (Latino economic) impact is even greater than in the nation as a whole,” he said after the program.

Fienup said he had no doubt that was the case in the tri-counties region too.