News Column

Past, Present, Future

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If, in 25 years, that premise loses appeal, it could open opportunities for the creation of new media outlets and content that address the U.S. Hispanic experience in formats that don't, in Ms. Davila's words, "bar second and third generation [Hispanics] in this country" the way Spanish-language media does. The changing role of women represents another powerful dynamic of the market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the female Hispanic labor force will grow from 5.7 million in 1998 to 8.5 million in 2008, an increase of 48 percent. That represents the highest growth rate among all female ethnic groups. On the entrepreneurial front, the number of companies owned by Hispanic women grew 39.3 percent between 1997 and 2002, according to statistics from the Center for Women's Business Research cited in Hispanic Consumers in Transition. "Many experts believe women entrepreneurs hold the key to future small-business growth," the book states.

Year Percentage
1978 4.9%
1979 5.0%
1980 5.7%
1981 6.0%
1982 6.1%
1983 6.3%
1984 6.6%
1985 6.7%
1986 6.9%
1987 7.1%
1988 7.4%
1989 7.5%
1990 8.5%
1991 8.6%
1992 8.9%
1993 9.0%
1994 9.1%
1995 9.3%
1996 9.5%
1997 10.1%
1998 10.4%
1999 10.5%
2000 11.7%
2001 12.1%
2002 12.4%
2003 11.9%
2004 12.2%
2005 12.4%
2006 12.7%
2007 13.0%
2008 13.3%
2009 13.6%
2010 14.10%
2011 14.40%
2012 14.60%
2013 14.90%
2014 15.20%
2015 15.50%
2020 16.90%
2025 18.50%
2030 19.90%
Source: HispanTelligence projections based on U.S. Census Bureau 2002 figures.

Population growth means Hispanics will exert more impact on future labor markets. Between 1982 and 2002, the total U.S. labor force increased by 31 percent, or 35 million workers; Hispanics contributed 11 million people to that growth figure. Continued growth for the next quarter century will make Hispanics nearly one-fifth of the U.S. work force (see table) and the major replacement factor for the retiring baby-boom generation.

Occupational structure will shift toward managerial, professional, and service jobs and away from manual labor. While numerical projections about the future labor force lack certainty many current job titles didn't exist 25 years ago the trend toward managerial posts is clear from a comparison of 1983 and 2001 data. Currently, management and professional occupations are the fastest-growing job categories for Hispanics.

Educational advancement will determine how fast Hispanics move into jobs traditionally associated with the middle class. The number of Hispanics receiving college degrees has grown from 20,096 in 1978 to an estimated 81,415 this year a quadrupling in 26 years. According to projections by HispanTelligence, the number of degrees will reach 147,539 by 2030 (see table).

"The children and grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants progress up the educational and income ladder in the same way as immigrants who came here from European countries," states James P. Smith in a study for RAND Corp. The study found that successive generations of Hispanic men have experienced significant improvements in wages and education relative to native-born Anglos.

"The number of Latinos going to college and graduate school is growing very rapidly. The number taking MBA degrees and finance is increasing," says Jorge Pinto, director of the Center for Global Finance at Pace University in New York. "At the same time, the world Latino population is growing rapidly. Therefore, the need for insurance, financial planning, and investing will increase."

While Mr. Pinto, a former official at the World Bank and Mexico's Nafinsa development bank, sees higher education for Hispanics as a growth industry, educational financing remains a problem. A recent study commissioned by Sallie Mae and conducted by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute found that more than half of Hispanic parents and 43 percent of Hispanic young adults could not name a single source of college financial aid. The study concluded that in the future schools need to inform students better about their options, because "the more Latino young adults know about financial aid, the more likely they are to attend college."

Even with improvements in educational attainment, many Hispanics will prefer the entrepreneurial route to middle-class status rather than traditional employment. Throughout its history, Hispanic Business has focused coverage on Hispanic entrepreneurs. Projections by HispanTelligence show the number of Hispanic companies will increase from 1.63 million currently to 6.2 million by 2030 (see table).

"The Hispanic community isn't just large in number, but exerts a significant influence on the way business is conducted," says Fariborz Ghadar, director of the Center for Global Business Studies at Pennsylvania State University and author of the forthcoming book Global Tectonics. He points to the marketing and operational efforts of Corporate America during the past decade to attract Hispanic consumers, suppliers, and employees as a portent of future development.

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