BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Since this year marks the 29th celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Queens Tribune is taking a look at how the Hispanic/Latino American community has contributed not only to Queens, but the United States as a whole.
Currently, there are approximately 57 million Hispanics living in the United States, making them the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority.
According to a study by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)—which focuses on the economic conditions of the Latino community in the United States— Latinos are expected to contribute more than $1.7 trillion to the United States economy by 2020.
A State of Latino Entrepreneurship 2015 report revealed that between 2007 and 2012, the number of Latin-owned businesses (LOBs) grew by 46.9 percent, compared to just 0.7 percent for non-LOBs.
LOBs are most commonly found in predominantly Hispanic/Latino American communities. However, the report revealed that 80 percent of LOBs sell to the complete domestic market.
In addition to their business contributions, Hispanic/Latino Americans have assumed leadership roles throughout the country. The United States currently has three Hispanic/Latino Americans holding major leadership positions in government, including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
In Queens, Hispanic/Latino Americans—such as Councilwoman Julissa Ferraras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights)—serve the vibrant communities of western Queens that have large Hispanic/Latino populations.
Some of the most predominant occupations Hispanic/Latinos hold are construction work (in which they account for 30 percent of the workforce), agriculture (in which they account for approximately 25 percent) and hospitality (in which they account for approximately 23 percent).
In addition, a major increase of Hispanic/Latino Americans in the United States has had an influence on the job market. Since more than 37 million of the population is Spanish speaking, workers who speak Spanish have more than a 50 percent chance of getting a job over someone who solely speaks English. And since the number of Spanish speakers is projected to rise to 43 million by 2020, many schools are making Spanish a mandatory second-language requirement.
Overall, the Hispanic/Latino American community has not only contributed to the United States through its vibrant culture, food and music— but also on an economic scale.
Hispanics/Latinos create small businesses and pursue careers in everything from construction to hospitality. They continue to contribute to the rich tapestry of the United States.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.