Latinos driving force behind Arizona’s prosperity

The highest labor participation rate among any demographic. More than 56 percent enrolled in undergraduate degrees. Fifty-one percent homeownership. 

Meet today’s Arizona Latinos.

They are a growing economic force with their buying power projected to reach $57 billion by 2022, according to the new 2019 DATOS report by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This is the 23rd issuing of the annual report that charts Hispanics’ impact on the marketplace. 

While Hispanics “too often are marginalized,” the report pulls back the veil to reveal that they are the new vanguard in America, said Chamber President and CEO Monica Villalobos who presented the report at a sold-out event at the Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort in Phoenix Friday.

“Today we are leading the way in our classrooms, our board rooms, our operating rooms and our courtrooms. Together, we are Arizona. We are America. Unapologetic,” she said. 

About 850 business and community members packed the ballroom to hear about how far 

Hispanics have come in Arizona and America – and how much further they have to go. 

The report shows that the Latino population is expected to continue to explode in Arizona and across the country through 2055. In turn, Hispanic business ownership will skyrocket as well.

Fry’s favorite for groceries, Discount for tires 

The 292-page DATOS report is packed with detailed information about where Latinos shop, where they bank, how they spend their vacation time, which neighborhoods lack access to a healthy food supply, business ownership, and much more. 

Gov. Doug Ducey, who spoke at the event, credited Latinos’ strong worth ethic, family values and culture for helping the state become a place all Arizonans can be proud of. 

“With a relentless entrepreneurial spirit, strong work ethic and unwavering belief in the American Dream, the Hispanic population has been integral in the economic success of the state,” said Ducey, whose administration focus has been to attract and retain industry, create jobs and reduce bureaucratic red tape. 

Through collaborations with the Vitalyst Health Foundation, World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers evaluated and made recommendations for a dozen categories from economic and educational opportunity to social and cultural cohesion. 

In the past two years, the report has placed a heightened focus on health. While Latinos continue to advance in education and business, health care continues to be a significant obstacle. Affordable insurance, transportation and culturally sensitive health providers are some of the concerns.   

Across the board, Hispanics are experiencing lower unemployment, higher educational attainment, and a shrinking wage gap with whites.

In industry, Hispanic-owned companies report some of their challenges: the ability to expand beyond a small business, to offer health care plans for employees and compete for workers. 

Here are some other highlights from the report:

  • Hispanics make up 30 percent of the state’s population with 2.2 million residents. Their numbers grew 42 percent from 2000 to 2017. 
  • Latino students are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. public school population and make up one in four students. 
  • Hispanic students’ academic scores continue to lag behind whites in Arizona. 
  • Hispanic-owned businesses are growing twice as fast as other U.S. firms. Latinos accounted for almost 25 percent of new business owners in 2017 in the U.S. even though they make up just 18 percent of the population.
  • Latino business owners are positive about the future with 79 percent planning to expand in the next five years. 

Among the roster of speakers at the event were Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego; Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic-Arizona, Dr. Rafael Fonseca; CEO of Valleywide Health, Kris Gaw; President of Grand Canyon University, Brian Mueller; and professor in the neurogenomics division at TGen, Dr. Matt Huentelman. 

A wide range of companies, higher education institutions, health care providers and other organizations contribute to and support the compilation of the report each year. To read the report, go to: 2019 DATOS.

Victoria Harker

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