From Baby Boom to Latino Boom in LA County

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) annual economic forecast conference spent a good deal of time focused on the Latino community and its effect on the county’s economy. Latino growth is affecting the county outlook in such a way that Univision Senior Vice President Chiqui Cartagena compared the impact to the influence of an earlier huge demographic change: From Baby Boom to Latino Boom.

The impact could soon register at the polls as well if Latinos increase their vote percentages. Nationally, 1.1 million Latinos enter the electorate each year, 80% of whom are simply Latino citizens turning 18.

USC professor Manuel Pastor said all trend lines show that Latinos will make up a great part of the labor force and consumers of the future. Today in LA, the median age of Latinos is 29 compared to the median age of whites, 45, Asians and Pacific Islanders 41, and African-Americans 38.

Citizens leaving the county are less likely to be Latinos. Pastor said 80% of the Latinos stay in Los Angeles County compared to 60% of whites.

Pastor said the older generations must support the younger Latino generation especially in education investment because they will be in charge of the county’s economic future.

The USC professor also argued that the business community must be involved in providing stability to the Latino population. He said the potential of the Trump Administration’s orders dealing with illegal residents would hurt the economy if many deportations took place. Unlike other aspects of the morning’s program there were no numbers or studies to quantify what the effects of possible administration actions might be because no one knows the extent of the administration’s plans.

The numbers that were released in the LAEDC study tell the story of Latino influence in LA County.

  • 48.2% of the county’s population is Latino
  • $60.1 billion in economic output from Latino households supporting 443,770 jobs in the county providing $7.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes
  • 333,970 LA County firms at least partly owned by Latinos up nearly 50% since 2007
  • $54.1 billion economic output from Latino owned firms (in 2012) supporting 409,230 jobs and $9 billion in federal, state and local taxes

But the study also revealed that county Latinos have a lower median income and lower annual household expenses than the county average. While LA County lost 89,000 manufacturing jobs from 2007 paying at average of $52,000, they have been replaced by 92,000 food service jobs averaging $20,000.

In an effort to boost the economic standings of Latinos and to enrich the country’s economic development, LAEDC announced a five-year strategic plan for economic development. Business, education and philanthropic institutions created a funded program with a goal of moving the labor market toward more high paying, skilled employment.

The Strategic Plan sets out the following seven core aspirational goals for the region, with a set of objectives and strategies under each:

  1. Invest in our people to provide greater opportunity
  2. Strengthen our leading export-oriented industry clusters, to create jobs
  3. Accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship
  4. Be more business-friendly
  5. Remove barriers to critical infrastructure development, financing and delivery
  6. Increase global connectedness
  7. Build more livable communities
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