With persons of Latinx/Latino/Latina/Hispanic/Latine heritage numbering 62.5 million or 19% of the U.S population, employers, colleges and universities, and businesses in-general need to plan intentionally to engage with this powerful economic force. The Pew Research Center (June 14, 2022) provides timely data about this population, correcting myths, and misstatements about this heterogeneous group in the U.S. A few facts are shared here.
- Of the 62.5 million, about 81% of Hispanics living in the country in 2021 were U.S. citizens, up from 74% in 2010. U.S. citizens include people born in the U.S. and its territories (including Puerto Rico), people born abroad to American parents, and immigrants who have become U.S. citizens through naturalization.
- The share of Latinx adults born in the U.S increased to 55.9% in 2019.
- Latinx children under 18 years of age born in the U.S. were 42% in 2021.
- Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Venezuelans are the fastest-growing Latinx-origin groups in this country, principally due to immigration. The Mexican immigrant rate, in contrast, has decreased/
- Language proficiency has increased; 72% of those 5 years and older reported speaking only English at home (Pew, August 16, 2023).
- The number of individuals holding a bachelor’s degree has increased. In 2021, one-in-five Hispanics ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Though this is less than the overall population (38%) it is up from 13% of Hispanic adults in 2010.
- It was predicted in 2021 that the purchasing power of Hispanics in the U.S. could increase to $2.6 trillion over the next three years,
- The number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions stands at 572 in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and the number of “emerging” HSI is 400 across 42 states and the District of Columbia (https://www.hacu.net/hacu/HSIs.asp)
What about personal identity?
As the title of this blog suggests, there are many identities meant to be inclusive of Latinxs of all backgrounds. However, it is necessary to recognize that individuals may still prefer to personalize their heritage country. Like myself, I prefer to self-identify as Mexican American, daughter of a Mexican immigrant father and mother of Mexican heritage born in the U.S. If one is a child of parents from culturally different backgrounds—Dominican and White, they may choose to self-identify based on closeness to one part of the family or another. For individuals who are increasingly further away from their parents and grandparents’ immigrant roots, they may choose to say they are American.
Circling back to the ethnic labels or identifiers in the title, it is important to say that all are acceptable, but they must be contextualized. In university settings, Latinx and Latine are in. Among non-college-going groups or graduates, Hispanic or Latina/o may be preferred. The federal government uses the term Hispanic. Geography and history must also be considered. In California and Texas, the terms Chicana/o have been used for many years and for those who want to highlight their Indigenous heritage and activism, this may be the preferred descriptor. In the workplace, there are implications for supervisors and co-workers. To create inclusion and sense of belonging for Latinx employees, do not make assumptions about their preferred identities. Get to know them as people. This brief commentary has implications for colleges and universities, employers, municipalities. Latinxs are professionals, hard workers, and contributors to the U.S. economy.