As Latinx, we are too often perceived as a homogenous block of stereotypes. One of the stickiest is that Latinx are poor, uneducated, lazy, and working in low paying jobs by choice; therefore their economic clout is negligible in the US as a country.
As we discussed in September, Latinx is not a monolithic group; it is above all, an identity. And it’s not just us saying so. The Pew Research Center acknowledges this, as well as the U.S. Census Bureau. “Who is Hispanic? Anyone who says they are. And nobody who says they aren’t.”
This means that many articles written about us Latinx in previous years, as useful and well documented as they may be, are to be taken with a grain of salt. It is time to resist the temptation to oversimplify and lump Latinx under one generic umbrella.
One of the most important consequences of this new approach is that it clears the path to looking at Latinx as integrated into the social fabric of the country, with all its nuances.
Let’s dive a little more into that.
- AN ECONOMIC DRIVING FORCE:
It’s not “Thank you [insert president’s name]”, it is “Thank you Latinx”!
And that’s a fact.
The Census Bureau estimates there were roughly 60.6 million Hispanics in the United States as of July 1, 2019, making up 18% of the total national population.
This is especially relevant regarding the economic picture of Latinx in the United States:
Did you know that 22% of the American middle class is Latinx?
A recent Peterson Institute (PIIE) study highlights that the Hispanic community in the United States has contributed significantly to US economic growth in recent decades and will continue to do so over the next 10 to 20 years. While the US economy has exhibited gradually declining economic dynamism in recent decades, foreign-born and Latinx populations have become engines of US entrepreneurship, especially since the Great Recession of 2008.
Moreover, an increasing number of Latinx are earning professional degrees and taking on leadership roles in different fields. In fact, Latinx entrepreneurs are starting companies 50 times faster than any other demographic group. A 2019 report finds that if the U.S. Latinx gross domestic product (GDP) was its own country, it would rank as the seventh largest GDP in the world. Trailing only the US, China, Japan, Germany, UK and France!
- AND NOW THE PARADOX
According to the latest data from the US Congress JEC Latinx as a whole still fares worse economically than the population as a whole. On average, we face higher unemployment, lower wages, especially women, that earn 54 cents for every dollar earned by white men – the worst rate out of all the women of color.
Even US born Latinx are 1.7 times more likely than whites to live in poverty. In other words, while Latinx account for 18.7% of the total population, we make up 28.1% of the population in poverty.
Foreign-born Latinx’ came to this country looking for a better future for their children, and they are here to make it happen. Their children, most probably, will achieve more economic success. And of course, this year, we have to add the pandemic into the equation because of the living and working conditions of a large group of the Latinx population. In an article from nytimes.com, we found that Latinx between the ages of 40 and 59 have been infected at five times the rate of white people in the same age group, as the new C.D.C. data shows. The differences are even more stark when it comes to deaths:
Of Latinx who died, more than a quarter were younger than 60. Among white people who died, only 6 percent were that young. This is not an issue of race. It is an issue of wealth.
- WE CAN ONLY GO FURTHER
Our resilience and strength have helped us be the huge driving force of the economy although most Americans – including Latinx themselves – are not aware of this.
The social inequality and stereotyping are weighing down energy and creativity.
At Moira we are committed to be a voice for our Latinx community because we know only we can be the architects of our future. Because we are Latinx too, and we must be proud – and aware – of our role in the shaping of this nation.
We’ve earned the right to be heard, to be important, and we’ll fight hard not only to uplift the Latinx community, but we’ll fight against old stereotypes that are putting us down.
The future of the U.S. economy is also our future, and it will depend in part on our ability to realize our full cultural and economic potential.