The U.S. Changing Demographics

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February 9, 2015

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”

Stephen Covey

The U.S. Changing Demographics

The U.S. is demographically and dramatically changing. Just back in 2008 minority kids were outnumbering whites in 1 of 6 counties across the county. In some counties minority kids were more then 50%. This is the largest growing portion of our society and it is estimated that there are 52 million Latinos in the U.S. By 2017 it is estimated that Latinos will make up the largest bulk of entrants into the workplace and by 2015 the largest workforce segment in California. It is estimated that by 2050 the Latino population will represent over half of the U.S. workforce.

This makes the U.S. number two in the world with most Latinos only after Mexico that has 108 million, out of 23 Latin American countries. The U.S. is number six in the world with the most Spanish speaking population.

Of this over 50 million, 10-12 million are estimated to be here illegally. Ironically what is keeping America younger or competitive in the aging global environment is immigration. Something that economists have indicated will serve as a positive for the American economy.

There is also the fact that we do not have enough American college students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) type of college degrees (more about this later). The other point that seems to get most organization’s attention is the buying power of the U.S. Latino community, which was estimated at $1 trillion in 2010, and growing. This is estimated to be larger than the entire economies of all but the top 14 countries (out of 194) in the world. I hope you can now gain a better understanding as to why there are ATMs that have both English and Spanish as options to choose from when actualizing a transaction.

There are some additional points to keep in mind in this interesting shift in age when it comes to these different demographics in our country. For starters the average age of Latinos in this country is 27 while for Anglos it is 40. There is the 1 to 1 and 1 to 8 ratio that basically says that for every Anglo that dies one is born; for every Latino that dies, eight are born. Our country and organizations need to think through who is going to backfill the aging baby boomer (primarily Anglo) workforce soon to be retired?

The difficulty for this group, for organizations, and its future workforce is that while it makes up almost 1/6th of the U.S. population, they traditionally have not pursued a college or higher education that is and will continue to be needed in the workplace in the 21st century. Presently it is estimated that almost 70% of Latinos enter college in 2013, up from 40% in 2000, yet it is estimated that only 1 in 10 will actually complete college. This creates a great divide when more and more jobs of the future will need more then just a high school education. The future workplace will need a higher level of thought process, problem solving, and critical thinking.

By 2020 nearly three-fourths of the predicted growth in the labor market will be due to Latinos. This in of itself is a powerful enough statement and wake up call for all organizations and their future workforce.

To complicate this further we should consider what does it mean to be Latino in the U.S. with 27 different nationalities and various migration patterns with different cuisines and social mores? Organizations cannot and should not just brand all Latinos as “alike” because this group falls under this particular demographic.

All of this begs the question of how will organizations engage in capitalizing on this demographic shift? How will they continue to market to them? More importantly, how will they develop them so they can become part of the leadership and decision makers and not just be part of the janitorial and/or waiters/waitress staff? Diversity is truly becoming a competitive advantage with increasing complexity. How the U.S. and organizations address this is still the open-ended question.

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