The national economy benefits from the presence of Hispanic people now, but it will depend on them in the future, the president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute said Thursday.
"If you think about it, there's a significant difference between just benefiting and depending," said Dr. Juan Andrade. "But that's what is transpiring in the Hispanic community of the United States."
Andrade spoke about the Hispanic community's economic clout in Kansas and the nation during a presentation Thursday at the Dodge City Public Library. Thirty-three people attended the presentation, which was part of the library's "Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion" program.
The event was sponsored by the American Library Association, the Fetzer Institute and the Dodge City Cultural Relations Advisory Board.
Andrade said if the Hispanic community were a separate nation, its economy would rank 14th among the Group of Twenty, which consists of 20 major economies. He said the community's economy is larger than the total economies of Turkey, Australia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Andrade also said Hispanics spend $1.1 trillion a year on goods and services now, and that figure is expected to rise to $1.5 trillion within five years.
"That's what we will be spending in just five years, which will move us up in that Group of 20, the G-20," he said. "That will move us up to eighth place. We will be larger than 12 nations that today belong to the G-20."
Andrade listed several areas where Hispanic spending habits are affecting the United States' economy, starting with a nationwide shift from renting a home to owning one. Other areas included:
• Buying food.
• Retail, particularly clothes and electronics.
• Transportation, especially cars and planes.
• Entertainment and media.
Andrade said the national Hispanic community is growing rapidly, which is one of the key factors in its increased economic clout. Hispanics accounted for 50 percent of the United States' population growth over the past decade, and that number will jump to 60 percent within five years.
"And people would say, 'Yeah, yeah. That's because all those illegals are coming across,'" he said. "No. Undocumented workers are leaving the United States. We have lost over 1 million in the last five years that have gone back to Mexico — whatever their country of origin."
But even though immigration is declining, the number of Hispanic residents of the United States will continue to grow, Andrade said. He said the Hispanic population will grow by 167 percent over the next 40 years, while the Asian population will rise by 142 percent.
Meanwhile, the general population will increase by only 42 percent over the next four decades.
"That's how fast the demographics are changing," Andrade said. "That's how fast the characteristics of American society are changing. That's how fast the complexion of America is changing."
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