Fourteen cities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- including Riverside -- have made the Pew Research Center list as cities where Latinos are the majority population, Inland Empire economist John Husing said Thursday.
That demographic has put the region -- made up of 4.2 million people -- in the No. 4 spot in the nation of metropolitan areas with the largest Hispanic population. The Latino population in the two-county area is more than 2 million, or 47.9 percent.
The Anglo population now stands at 38.9 percent, Husing said at a Latino Leadership and Policy Institute workshop in San Bernardino. That is down from 51 percent in 2000, he said.
What does this population swing in the 27,000-square-mile region that is expected to grow to 5.8 million people by 2035 mean for the region?
"If you're in business or in education, get ready for it," said Paul Granillo, chief executive of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. "We're starting the conversation to help people in business and in the nonprofit world understand the economy of Riverside and San Bernardino counties has a significant Latino demographic."
"If we were a state, we'd be the 26th largest state in the country."
Fourteen Inland cities that have a majority Hispanic population View latinobiz map in a larger map
Yet, despite the shift in majority population, Granillo said the Latino community is not represented in leadership groups at the highest levels. "It's our intent to change that."
Marco Robles, public affairs director with Cardenas Markets, attending the first in a series of workshops in San Bernardino on Thursday, said he appreciated the overview.
"As Latinos, we have a responsibility to open the dialogue on these demographic changes," Robles said. "It will set in motion a process to learn what our role is at the leadership level to grow the employment rate and deal with education issues."
Husing stressed that the dialogue is important, as a sizeable portion of the non-Hispanic population is heading toward retirement in a region where 62 percent of the population is younger than 45 years old.
"As we talk to companies, one of the biggest issues they face is the need to replace skilled workers," he said. "With our technical folks now starting to retire, it'll increasingly be the Hispanic community that we will need to rely on to replace them" and to become the managers of tomorrow.
It's not that simple, Husing noted.
"Education is the single, greatest challenge we face for prosperity going forward," Husing said, noting a college-graduate level within the Hispanic population of 8 percent. For the community as a whole, the percentage of people in the region with a bachelor's degree or above is nearly 28 percent.
"We need to see more activism in higher education," he said, noting that the region will not be prosperous long-term if it veers from that path. "The one thing economists agree upon is there's no such thing as a poor, educated community," he said. "Education and prosperity are closely linked."
"We cannot polarize ourselves," Robles agreed.
Raymond Buriel, a professor of psychology at Pomona College, said important cultural differences should also be shared to help understand the Latino psyche involving business. Latinos think in terms of "familia," family, and "personalismo," which is an important way of sharing among those who transact business -- which may include a time out to look at family photos -- before the contract is signed.
"If a Latino is mistreated," he said, word will spread among the "familia" that may include an entire community. "Before you make connections with the Latino community, you need to know what that community is."
Ramon Alvarez, who owns a Jaguar-Lincoln-Mercury dealership in the region, was mentioned as an Inland resident who was tapped to help parents of Latino students attend school meetings, and did his part to help achieve community activism in Hispanic population.
"He put out things in Spanish and English, and interjected himself into the conversation," Husing said. "Suddenly, the meetings had overflow crowds. Why? He understood the rhythm of the community to make it happen."
TOP METRO AREAS
The top five metro areas by Hispanic population, according to the Pew study:
Los Angeles-Long Beach: Total, 5.7 million of 12.8 million residents
New York-Northeastern, N.J.: Total, 4.2 million of 17.8 million residents
Houston-Brazoria, Texas: Total, 2 million of 5.6 million residents
Riverside-San Bernardino: Total, 2 million of 4.2 million residents
Chicago: Total, 1.9 million of 9.2 million residents
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