Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What Hispanics Mean for the U.S. Economy

"The Economist" spells out why they're essential.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 12:41 PM

The Economist, Britain’s comprehensive business weekly magazine, has a fascinating series of stories in its latest issue about the rise of Hispanics in America.

Although many Hispanics were on parts of American soil long before now-dominant Northern Europeans arrived, many consider them outsiders with strange and upsetting customs.

Many American politicians, including U.S. Rep. Dave Brat, a Republican representing the 7th District that includes parts of Henrico County, have beaten drums about the threat of immigrants.

Last summer, Brat beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor partly by accusing him of being “soft” on immigration. His most recent attack came during a Richmond speech in which he promised to overturn President Barack Obama’s executive order that could offer legal relief to some five million undocumented aliens, many of them Hispanics, in this country.

In its lengthy report, the Economist urges that rather than bashing new Hispanic arrivals, the United States should nurture them because they're essential to run the country’s economy.

If 57 million Hispanics were to drop out of the country tomorrow, the magazine reports, “public school grounds would lose one child in four and employers from Alaska to Alabama would struggle to stay open.”

Their loss would hurt the country longer term because higher Hispanic birthrates mean there will be a more youthful and robust national workforce in the future. By 2050, Germany’s median age will be 52 as China’s population flattens and then drops. Because of Hispanics, the country’s median age will be 41 by 2050.

There are far more Hispanics being born in this country than are crossing the much-tougher border. This has big potential in politics because each year, 900,000 Hispanics reach voting age -- presaging a huge and important voting block.

And the Economist reports that learning English isn't a long-term problem because most second- or third-generation Hispanics speak English fluently while their Spanish language skills fall off.

Oddly, politicians haven’t quite grasped what the Hispanic population really means. The Economist notes that the harshest anti-immigration laws in the country are in places such as Arizona, where aging whites live next to diverse children.

It may surprise some, but many Hispanic families date back centuries in this country. During his three terms as a Congressman from Colorado, John Salazar had to endure taunts that he should go “back where he came from.” It turns out that one of his ancestors co-founded Santa Fe, New Mexico, back in 1598, nine years before the English arrived at Jamestown.

Go figure.


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