Latinos a driving economic force in Arizona

Arizona Hispanics’ buying power is expected to hit an all time high at $47 billion this year, and climb another $10 billion by 2022.

Latinos here purchase homes at a higher rate than the rest of the nation, snatch up close to 20 percent of all new cars in Phoenix, and prefer shopping at Fry’s Food Stores. In fact, Phoenix Hispanics spent $2.3 billion on groceries in 2014.

These are just a few of the facts contained in a new report, DATOS 2018, that paints a telling portrait of Latinos’ growing economic power and influence in Arizona. This is the 22nd year the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has released this comprehensive report that details statistics about economics, health, population, community safety, and other trends within the Hispanic population.

“Datos is important because it highlights our strengths, our successes and our contributions… what we bring to this state,” David Garcia, chairman of the Datos committee, told a crowd of about 850 who attended the DATOS 2018 breakfast conference Friday.

Garcia, an Arizona State University professor and the Democratic candidate for governor, cited the fact that Latinos accounted for 51 percent of U.S. population growth from 2016 to 2017.

“Think about that for a second,” he said. “Fifty-one percent. It’s a number that speaks volumes about the future and the importance of the Latino community in the United States and Arizona.”

A number of state and local leaders attended the event including Gov. Doug Ducey, who lauded the Chamber for its work in helping Hispanic students and entrepreneurs.  

“Today is a special day for of all of Arizona to celebrate the unique and growing economic impact of the Hispanic community on our state,” Ducey told the crowd. “It’s also a day to reflect and celebrate the countless ways in which the Hispanic community has enriched Arizona’s culture and helped forge this state into the land of opportunity that it is today.”

Monica Villalobos, vice president of the Hispanic Chamber, said Datos is vital in its role to report data that tells the real story of Hispanic contributions in Arizona and the U.S.  

This year’s report shatters the “myth” that Latinos don’t pay their fair share, said Villalobos, citing statistics from the report that show Hispanics in Arizona contributed $5.6 billion to Medicare and Social Security in 2015. Immigrants paid over $2 billion in tax revenue.

“We’re putting in more than we’re taking out,” she said.  

While Latinos are seeing economic and educational gains, they still lag behind in areas such as quality health care, transportation, jobs, and business profits. In terms of population growth, Latino numbers have dropped 1.5 percent over the past decade, but they have outpaced the general population in other areas like new business growth.

Other highlights from the report:

-Hispanics make up 31 percent of the state’s population with 2.14 million residents.

-Maricopa County has the fifth largest Latino population in the nation

-There are 123,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the state, the majority owned by women

-Hispanic women-owned businesses are growing at a 116 percent rate, 114 percentage points higher than the rate for all firms

-In Arizona, Hispanic homeownership rates are higher than the national average at 50.6 percent

-Nearly 50 percent of all K-12 students in Arizona’s public schools are Hispanic

-From 2000-2016, the Hispanic high school completion rate jumped 18 percent in the U.S.

-In 2017, Hispanics in Phoenix spent $1.3 billion on new cars, accounting for 17 percent of all new auto purchases

-More than 60 percent of Hispanics in Phoenix and Tucson shop at Fry’s Food Stores and Walmart

A wide range of companies and organizations contributed to and supported the report’s completion including Salt River Project, the Maricopa Association of Governments, United Way, Cox Communications, the Phoenix Diocese, Grand Canyon University, the Apollo Education Group and many more.

This year, Datos emphasized health and highlighted “elements of a healthy community.” Through collaborations with the Vitalyst Health Foundation and World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control Prevention, the report evaluated and made recommendations for a dozen categories: access to health care, affordable quality housing, community safety, economic opportunity, educational opportunity, transportation options, environmental quality, affordable food, community design, parks and recreation, social and cultural cohesion, and social justice.

Datos research found that 36 percent of Arizonans give their community an “unhealthy” rating. Those in urban areas were more critical than in suburban areas. The report speaks of how “zip code” is one of the strongest indicators of a longer life. Residents living in north Scottsdale can expect to live 10 to 14 years more than residents 20 minutes away in south Phoenix.

This year’s keynote speaker Adam Goodman, president and CEO of Goodmans Interior Structures, encouraged everyone to take time to help communities become healthier.

“I don’t care how small your business is or how big your business is…,” Goodman said. “You can help. Everything you do, no matter how small it is, it makes a difference.”

Victoria Harker

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