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Saturday, Jul 20, 2024

Most Americans See Latinos as Biggest Boost to U.S. Economy

Seven out of 10 Americans attribute the country’s economic growth to Latino population growth, reflecting that U.S. Hispanics have the highest workforce contribution rate (65.6 percent) and have started the most small businesses out of any other population group over the last decade. However, according to a nationally representative survey—conducted by BSP Research and commissioned by the Latino Donor Collaborative in partnership with Latino Corporate Directors Association, UnidosUS, Raben Group and the Friends of the American Latino Museum—decades-old stereotypes and underestimations of the group remain prevalent among Americans across ethnic and racial backgrounds.

“We are glad to see that, comparing the results of this survey with our 2012 LDC Perception of Latinos Report, the needle has moved from Latinos mostly being perceived as ‘takers’ to being mostly perceived as ‘contributors’ today. Still, there is much work to do, spe- cifically with media which has the capacity to help eliminate damaging stereotypes,” said Ana Valdez, executive director of the Latino Donor Collaborative. “The release of today’s data is invaluable because it identifies specific mischaracterizations of Latinos we must correct, so we have a clearer vision for all Americans: the more we risk making ill-informed decisions, the higher the cost in real dollars when we’re investing resources as employers and as national leaders.”

The survey found that Latinos are most often seen inaccurately as essential workers or farm workers or laborers—with 48 percent of non-Latinos viewing Hispanics in these roles—despite the fact that among all racial and ethnic groups, Latinos command the highest rates of business creation, proving their role as entrepreneurs and business leaders. Additionally, while more than 75 percent of Americans feel that Hispanic immigrants have a lot to offer the country, most of them vastly overestimate that specific population and underestimate the U.S.-born share of Latinos. Non-Latinos estimate that the U.S.-born share of Latinos is as low as 31 percent, when in reality it is more than double that figure at 67 percent.

“This poll has good news and bad news for our community. The good news is that most Americans recognize the importance of Latinos and Latinas to our economy and appreciate our work ethic and values. The bad news is that most Americans also believe in widely inaccurate and negative myths and stereo- types—perpetuated by the news and social media—about our size and immigration status that are holding our country back from mak- ing the investments and enacting the policies that will benefit both our community and our nation. Overcoming these misconceptions and telling a more positive and accurate story about the Hispanic community, then, is even more important for the future of us all,” said Janet Murguía, UnidosUS president and CEO.

“Business leaders—both non-Latino and Latino—play a critical role in driving an accurate story of the Latino community and its huge impact on the American economy,” said Esther Aguilera, president and CEO of the Latino Corporate Directors Association. “We need business leaders everywhere to lean in, learn more, and speak up about the dynamism and success of the Latino community. Otherwise, these misconceptions and contradictory views of our community will continue to slow progress for everyone.”

Misconceptions of the actual make-up of the Latino community also have an effect in how non-Latinos perceive the political power of the community. Many non-Latinos, particularly whites at 45 percent, expressed belief that increased Latino voter turnout would make no difference to the country, even while agreeing that elected officials would also pass more laws that benefited the group. Black and Asian adults in the United States hold different views about Latinos’ voting power, however. More than 50 percent of Black and Asian adults in the United States said we’d be better off as a country if more Hispanics voted.

“These results also provide helpful information about how other communities perceive Latinos and may help create alliances and bridges to work together to further amplify the value of our nation’s diversity” said Estuardo Rodriguez, president and CEO, Friends of the American Latino Museum. “With the recent congressional approval to create a National American Latino Museum, there’s a huge opportunity right now to lift up the contributions Latinos have made for more than 500 years in the founding and building of our nation. Dispelling misconceptions and driving a more accurate narrative of our community will only serve us on our collective path to becoming a stronger nation.”

Other key findings of the survey, which was conducted among 2,200 Americans between late August and early September 2021, include:

Incorrect misperceptions about the broader Latino population are often connected:

• Latinos comprise 18.7 percent of the U.S. population, but non-Latinos overestimate that figure by double at 38 percent.

• U.S.-born Latinos are two-thirds of the broader Latino population, but all groups estimate that the majority are immigrants.

• These misperceptions contribute to ideas that illegal immigration or lack of citizenship are the biggest barriers Latinos face today.

There are significant areas where misconceptions about the Latino workforce can be corrected:

• More than 75 percent of Americans believe Latino immigrants have a lot to
offer this country and are an economic boost (Asian, 87 percent; Black, 85 percent; white, 76 percent).

• Many non-Latinos also believe undocumented immigrants are taking jobs Americans depend on (Asian, 55 percent ; white, 53 percent; Black, 49 percent), though undocumented immigrants make up only 13 percent of all Latinos in the United States.

• The view that Latinos are farmworkers is prevalent, even among Latinos, who believe half of Latinos fit that description. A commonly held misperception is that “farmworker describes more Latinos than “entrepreneurial or business-minded,” despite U.S. Latinos creating the most small businesses in the country over the last 10 years.

There are positive signs of intercultural cooperation, but major opportunities exist for more accurate learning between groups:

• More than 60 percent of non-Latinos feel they know Latinos enough to work together on common causes (white, 68 percent; Black, 66 percent; Asian, 63 percent).

• More than 60 percent of non-Latinos personally interact with Latinos on a regular basis, and more than 80 percent have relationships with Latinos in a variety of social or professional settings.

• Despite personal relationships and frequent contact, only about half of Americans believe Latinos share their values, even among Latinos themselves (Latino, 57 percent; Black, 56 percent; white, 53 percent; Asian, 48 percent). At the same time, family-orientedness, belief in the American Dream and religiousness are the traits most commonly attributed to Latinos, and more than half of Latinos are also viewed as optimistic and experiencing discrimination.

Latinos themselves—especially business leaders and community-based organizations can lead on correcting misconceptions:

• After Latinos that people personally know, whites and Latinos say their next-most trusted messengers for opinions about this group are Latino business leaders (30 percent and 33 percent) and community-based organizations (30 percent and 34 percent).

For more detail on the above findings, as well as findings about national patterns of media consumption related to Latinos, visit latinodonorcollaborative.org.


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