Sep 30 2020

JEC, CHC Release New Report on the Economic State of the Hispanic Community and Why Hispanics are Key to the Nation’s Recovery

Hispanic economic contributions—estimated at $2.6 trillion in GDP—are critical for growth and a more inclusive U.S. economy.

Washington, D.C.—As the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Vice Chair Don Beyer (D-VA), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Chair Joaquin Castro (D-TX), today released a new report about the economic state of the Hispanic community, the impact of the coronavirus and why the community is key to re-building the economy after the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the Hispanic community was making progress economically; the number of Hispanic business owners was growing, as was Hispanic homeownership and college graduation rates. However, the pandemic has halted this progress and devastated the Hispanic community in terms of lives lost and the economic impact. Hispanics are more likely to contract and die from the coronavirus and to work in the industries that lost the most jobs since the pandemic began.

In April, almost a month after President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, the unemployment rate for Hispanics spiked from 4.4% to 18.9%, before dropping to 10.5% in August. More than 3 in 5 Hispanic households have lost earnings due to the pandemic and more than 1 and 3 have experienced food insecurity.

Vice Chair Beyer, JEC:

“The Hispanic community plays an outsized role in U.S. economic growth—driving entrepreneurship, consumer spending and several industries—and we need them to play an outsized role in the nation’s recovery.

“We cannot do what we often do, and what we did after the Great Recession—declare that this recession is over if economic indicators are headed in the right direction for the nation, but the wrong direction for the Hispanic community. This is especially true if the number of Hispanics working low-wage jobs with no benefits remains the same after the pandemic, or worse—increases.

“While the Hispanic community has long shown resiliency over the years to economic ups and downs and immense inequities, they cannot be left to go it alone. Federal programs and policies passed to aid the recovery must be inclusive—available to all regardless of immigration status, including domestic, agricultural and gig workers.

“As the report reveals, our country will only reach its full economic potential if the Hispanic community reaches theirs, and the same is true for other communities of color. The Hispanic community was making progress before the pandemic, and—if we get the recovery right—it should continue to make progress long after it is over.”

Chair Castro, CHC:

“Latino communities are essential to our economy and recovery. The numbers speak for themselves: Latinos in the U.S. would be the world 8th largest economy if we were a country, and we’re driving growth with our productivity and entrepreneurial spirit. Latino workers and families are also suffering during this pandemic with higher rates of unemployment and lower levels of wealth to fall back on. This coronavirus crisis has not only exposed the economic inequality in our society, but also exacerbated the divide—and it’s up to policymakers to tackle these challenges with facts and reforms. That’s why this report from the Joint Economic Committee is so important, and I commend Chairman Beyer for his leadership.”

Jerry Porras, Executive Director of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change at the Stanford Graduate School of Business:

“The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Latino Business Action Network, conducts annual national surveys of Latino-owned businesses to better understand both the opportunities and challenges facing this fastest growing segment of the small business ecosystem.

“Our research shows that for the majority of Latino-owned businesses, liquidity was a challenge in pre-pandemic times and is even more of one today. Presently, 86% of Latino-owned businesses cannot survive beyond 6 months with current cash reserves. We estimate that lacking cash on hand and additional relief aid, we may see the loss of over two million jobs if Latino employer businesses have to permanently close before the end of the year.

“The research report released by the JEC and CHC highlights the broad and significant impact Latinos have on the U.S. economy based on a comprehensive review of rigorous data sources. The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative is pleased to contribute insights on Latino-owned businesses, which we have been researching closely since 2015.”

Andres Tobar, the Executive Director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, which is in Vice Chair Beyer’s District:

“Among those who have been hardest hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic are the day laborers I work with every day. Jobs placements for day laborers have dramatically decreased since the beginning of the pandemic—making their search for work even harder than it was before. Add to that the fact that day laborers are excluded from the direct cash payments included in the CARES Act as well as unemployment insurance and other federal, state and local benefits, and it is not hard to see what life has been like for members of this community.

“Since 2000, the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) has tried to make life a little bit easier for day laborers and their families and this has continued throughout the pandemic. In addition to helping day laborers find work, SEEC has also been helping to make sure they have clothes on their backs and food on their tables, and we could not do this without the help of foundations and local businesses, including many local Hispanic-owned businesses.

“I would like to thank my congressman, Vice Chair Beyer, for his leadership on this report. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it is important to remember what this report makes so clear—that every member of the Hispanic community, no matter where they work, is important to the future of our nation.”

Additional findings included in the report are:

  • Pre-pandemic:
    • The number of Hispanic business owners grew at 34% compared to an increase of just one percent among non-Hispanic business owners.
    • In 2018, Hispanics accounted for more than 60% of the increase in homeownership.
    • Hispanic college attainment nearly doubled in the last two decades to 19% having a BA or higher in 2019, but the Hispanic-White college gap persists.
  • Currently:
    • Hispanic GDP would rank as the 8th largest in the world—at $2.6 trillion in 2018—if it were measured against independent countries.
    • The median net worth of Hispanic households is one-eighth that of White households ($20,600 compared to $171,000).
    • Hispanic Americans are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as Whites.
    • The uninsured rate for Hispanic children is more than two times higher than that of White children.
    • Nearly half of all the COVID-19 deaths among American children are Hispanic (45%).

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

 The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.