Special Features

Hispanics are Shaping the U.S. Workforce and Business Environment

The U.S. Census Bureau results tells the story of the country’s changing demographics, and those changes indicate that Hispanic and Latino people are a growing population that is already having a profound impact on the workforce. The most recent 2020 census reports Hispanic and Latino people accounting for 18.5 percent of the total population, a significant number by any measure. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanics also have a higher employment rate (66.8%) than Asians (64.0%), Whites (63.0%) and Black/African Americans (62.5 percent).

Empowering Through Employment and Entrepreneurship

Those are the statistics, but what do they mean for the U.S. over the short and long-term? They mean Hispanics are not only a growing population that is changing workforce demographics, but that they are having a growing economic impact. Twenty-three percent (23 percent) of Hispanics are employed in management, professional and other related occupations, indicating an increasing middle class. But here is an interesting fact, 19 percent of employed Hispanic men compared to 29 percent of employed women work in management and professional jobs. Approximately 20 percent of employed men work in service occupations, while 60 percent of employed Hispanic women work in service occupations, and sales and office occupations. This indicates the importance of considering intersectionality when shaping diversity and inclusion practices.

The employment numbers and the contributions to a variety of industries is one aspect, but many Hispanics also own small businesses. In fact, Tom Barkin, President of the Richmond Federal Reserve, told the Regional Hispanic Chambers of Commerce during a presentation that businesses owned by Hispanics are “vital to our small business ecosystem: After the Great Recession, the number of small businesses in the United States would have declined were it not for the growth in Hispanic-owned firms.” The number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last decade, compared to only 1 percent for all other small businesses.

Injecting Youthful Energy

The Hispanic population injects new energy into the economy through the workforce and business ownership, and the population is young. The millennial generation is approximately 25 percent Hispanic. Pew Research found U.S. born Latinos between the ages of 18-20 and out of high school are more likely than other Gen Z groups to enroll in college. The best description of the Hispanic population and workforce came from NERA Consulting professionals who are also Adjunct Professors at George Mason University Law School. The Latino population is “growing, young, employed, entrepreneurial.” Research found that if Hispanic employment continues to increase at the current rate to 2024, U.S. labor productivity, new business formation, GDP, and GDP per capita increases.

All of these statistics add up to an energetic dynamic population that believes in taking advantage of opportunities. Hispanics and Latinos/Latinas are not a generic group of people either. They bring diversity to the workforce and business ownership. Hispanic immigrants and native-born Hispanic-Americans come from cultures that represent the world – Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, South America, Central America, and other countries where Spanish is not the native language, like Brazil. The diversity is a source of innovation and creativity, but it also helps organizations understand how to outreach to Hispanic local communities and connect with Hispanics through product development and marketing.

Looking to a Transforming Future

Despite the size of the Hispanic population and member contributions to workforce productivity, the economy and innovation, they make up a mere 3% of corporate directors. Hispanics are one of the most underrepresented groups in board rooms, and the same is true for executive positions. Hispanics make up approximately 4.3% of executive positions. Clearly, barriers to advancement exist, but change is coming as businesses increasingly understand that boardroom and executive diversity positively impacts everything, from workforce engagement to profitability.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, the spotlight is on Hispanic economic contributions now and into the future. The U.S. cannot thrive without the full inclusion of a group of people who account for almost 20% of the population. The Hispanic culture is also exactly what is needed right now for companies to move forward post-pandemic. Hispanics embrace a culture which includes many factors businesses struggle to adapt to in their corporate cultures, such as enabling employees to balance work and family needs - and working and leading with empathy. It is time corporate leaders listen to Hispanic employees and business leaders, if they want to join the workforce and economic transformation underway.