Editor's note: This is the second of a four-part series celebrating 25 years of Hispanic Business magazine.
In the 1980s, Hispanic Business functioned as both a validator and beneficiary of demographic change. It was during this decade that the 1980 Census revealed 14.6 million Hispanics were living in the United States, a surge of 61 percent from the 9.07 million counted just 10 years previous. Government, media, corporations, and the public abruptly became aware of the growing Hispanic middle class in their midst.
Politically, the 1980 Census meant more Hispanics in Congress. In 1981, Henry Cisneros became mayor of San Antonio. In 1985, Xavier Suarez became the first Cuban American to run Miami. Under the leadership of Jorge Mas Canosa, the Cuban American National Foundation exerted a strengthened influence in the Reagan administration. In 1989, Cuban-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress.
By the end of the decade, the first Bush administration had two Hispanics in the Cabinet – Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos and Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan.
VIDEO: The 80s
"Spurred by a series of developments, including the sharp rise in the number of Hispanics revealed in the 1980 Census, a 1978 Time magazine special report declaring that Hispanics would soon become the nation's largest minority, and the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, the 1980s were touted as the 'Hispanic Decade,' arousing interest in Hispanics as consumers," writes Arlene Davila in her book Latinos Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People. "This was also the time when multiculturalism was being popularized as a political discourse, to further contribute to corporate America's interest in Hispanics as a culturally specific marketing niche."
But the economic trends that were under way held the most power to reshape a nation, and Hispanic Business. The number of Hispanic middle-class households increased from less than 1.5 million in 1979 to about 2.2 million by 1989, according to a report from the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute. Growth of the Hispanic middle class was "about five times as great as that of Anglos during the 1980s," the report states. The rapid growth in income and employment that fueled the boom also created an educated, professional class of Hispanics eager to read the type of exclusive, research-driven information and stories published in Hispanic Business.
Also, after a period of slow and steady growth in the late '70s and early '80s, the U.S. economy expanded rapidly after mid-decade. The junk bond revolution fueled a merger and acquisition boom as corporations bought one another to create massive conglomerates such as Time Warner and General Electric. Through the first nine years of the decade, the national GDP rose 35.2 percent in constant dollars. And Hispanics were actively participating in this growth, producing luminaries such as Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta and Continental Airlines CEO Frank Lorenzo.