Hispanic Heritage Month brings with it a series of celebrations across the country that highlight our culture and accomplishments. In the spirit of this occasion, we compiled our Top Ten Latino Facts that together represent a snapshot of where we are and where we’re going.
1. One in six people in the U.S.is Latino. That’s 16.3 percent of the country’s population or 50.5 million Latinos. And we’re growing at a faster rate than any other group. In 2000, the Latino population was 14 percent of the population; in 2050, it is estimated it will be 29 percent.
2. Six hundred thousand Latinosturn 18 every year. That’s 1.2 million every two years, enough to create 1.5 new congressional districts.
3. Only 50 percent of eligible Latinoscame out to vote in the 2008 elections, among the lowest voting rate of any group.
4. Latinos make up 50 percent of inmates in federal prisons. The majority of Latino federal prisoners are jailed on felony immigration charges. The growth might be due to the increased use of the Secure Communitiesprogram, which checks the fingerprints of every person booked by local law enforcement agencies against Department of Homeland Security databases for immigration violations. This number could continue to grow as the Secure Communities program is expanded to every county in the nation.
5. Meanwhile, Latinos account for only 15 percent of student enrollment in two- and four-year colleges across the country. The numbers are growing. From 2009 to 2010, there was a 24 percent enrollment jump, bringing Latino enrollment up to 1.8 million.At the same time, only half of these students are graduating from college.
6.More Latino children are living in poverty, 6.1 million in 2010, than children of any other racial or ethnic group. This marks the first time inU.S. history that the single largest group of poor children is not white. In 2010, 37.3 percent of poor children were Latino, 30.5 percent were white and 26.6 percent were black.
7. Looking for a job? You’re not alone. Unemployment among young Latinos (18-24) was at 20.1 percent, compared to 15.9 percent for whites and 31 percent for blacks in July of this year, nearly the same as in 2010. In response to these rates, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis created employment programs intended to help young adults join the workforce. Learn more at http://www.dol.gov/dol/audience/aud-students.htm.
8. One of every 10 Latinos over the age of 20 lives with diabetes.When left untreated, diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and blindness, among other health problems. Although family history increases the risk for diabetes, you can control this with healthy eating habits and regular exercise.
9. Latinos own nearly one in every 10 businesses across the country. Latino-owned businesses grew 47 percent to 2.3 million in comparison to the non-Latino increase of 14.5 percent between 2002 and 2007. They generated over $400 billion dollarsin 2007.
10. In addition to opening new businesses and creating new jobs, Latinos are also spending big bucks. Latinos contributed more than $1 trillion to our economy in 2010.
Without a doubt, Latinos are vital to the sustainability of our country. As the youngest ethnic group in the country (median age of 27), not only are we the labor force of the future, but we are helping keep theU.S. competitive in the global market. We are creating new jobs and spending more than ever. And most importantly, we are becoming an increasingly larger voting block that can not be ignored. But it’s not enough to be a large community. We need to vote and be a powerful community!
Johanna N. Perez is an intern at Voto Latino. She is currently a Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies and Political Science double major at the University of California, Irvine.