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Hispanic Influence Reaches New Heights in the U.S.
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Hispanic Influence Reaches New Heights in the U.S.

The multi-faceted Hispanic consumer is widely recognized as a cornerstone of any growth initiative for virtually all U.S. industries, and for good reason.

From the Ballot Box to the Grocery Store, Nielsen’s fifth report on the Latino consumer in the annual Diverse Intelligence Series, shows that Hispanic power and influence is surging: 50% of U.S. population growth from 2010 to 2015 has come from Hispanics, and the U.S. Census expects the U.S. Latino population to more than double within the next two generations.

Almost 57 million strong, Hispanics represent almost 18% of the U.S. population, and they’re expected to continue showing growth, reaching 24% of the population by 2040 and 29% by 2060. Despite slowing immigration and reduced birth rates, Hispanics will drive the majority of all U.S. future growth for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Census projects Latinos to account for a full 65% of the nation’s population growth over the next 45 years. This means the U.S. Latino population will more than double, adding 62 million people, and will reach more than 119 million people by 2060.

Meanwhile, the compound effect of Hispanic growth and the decline of the non-Hispanic white population due to aging and lower birth rates will result in non-Hispanic whites declining from 62% of the total population in 2015 to 44% by 2060; their contribution to total growth will decline by 17% from 2015 to 2060.

Two languages are better than one

Younger generations of Hispanics (under age 55) are predominantly bilingual, and with each new generation, more English-dominant. Currently, 40.6 million Hispanics over the age of 5 speak English well, and 96% of Hispanics under 18 are either bilingual or English-dominant. In total, 55% of Hispanics are bilingual, while 27% are English-dominant and 19% are Spanish-dominant. Spanish is still spoken by many of the English-dominant speakers, however, and the growing importance of Spanish makes dual-language competence a benefit for marketers in mainstream America.

Sixty-three percent of Spanish-dominant Hispanics are age 35 and older, compared with only 4% of those under age 18. Over half (58%) of Hispanics under 18 are bilingual. Despite increasing proficiency in English, messaging in Spanish and in-culture is still very relevant to younger generations.

Hispanic buying power growth outpaces the total population

In 2015, Hispanics controlled $1.3 trillion in buying power, an amount larger than the GDP of Australia or Spain, according the Selig Center for Economic Growth, up 167% since the turn of the century. The increase is more than twice the 76% growth in non-Hispanic buying power during the same period. The center’s projections show U.S. Hispanic buying power continuing this trend, reaching $1.7 trillion by 2020.

Latinas have made the most dramatic gains in education, as college enrollment rates among female Hispanics graduating from high school now outpace both non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans. Seventy-four percent of Latinas who graduated high school in 2012-2014 are now enrolled in college, higher than non-Hispanic whites (73%) and African-Americans (65%), according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The higher education level is helping drive positive economic results, including rising household income and greater household expenditures.

According to U.S. Census data, the average Hispanic household income had increased to $42,396 in 2014 from $40,946 in 2009, and the percentage of Hispanics with a household income greater than $50,000 increased to 43% in 2014 from 30% in 2000. Additionally, income levels for both U.S.-born and foreign-born households have increased; U.S.-born households with incomes exceeding $50,000 increased to 48% in 2014 from 33% in 2000, while foreign-born households with incomes exceeding $50,000 increased to 38% from 26%.

For additional insight, download Nielsen’s From the Ballot Box to the Grocery Store report.