Monday, April 09, 2007

Some items on Latinos in the United States

When it comes to the debate over illegal immigration, it usually has a racist undertone (or very overt tone) along the lines of hating Mexicans or other Latin Americans. You never hear about other immigrants who may be here illegally as well. For instance, NPR recently featured a story about Irish immigrants who are in the United States illegally as well, often students who overstay their visas and work as nannies for instance. The story of the Irish, to cite an example, is one that is rarely mentioned. Could it be because they speak English, and they look like any other American, i.e. fair skin, light colored eyes, etc.? Just a thought for those who are the loudest about "immigration reform." Would you want those Irish immigrants, who are now here illegally, after all, they overstayed their visas, so they are breaking the law (a common complaint of those who object to giving Mexicans here illegally an amnesty or a path to legality), to be deported as soon as possible, or do you grant them an amnesty or route to legal status as the lobbying from the story suggests? For me, that is the kind of question I want to ask when I hear yet another story about the Minutemen or border security or "how those immigrants come and take jobs Americans could be doing." Americans could be doing them, but let's be honest, they are not doing them. However, for this post, what I am really interested is in pointing out some items I have recently seen regarding Latinos in the United States.

The Magazine Publishers of America recently updated their market profile for Hispanics and Latinos. Some of the findings highlighted on the press release:

  • Population growth: There will be 50 million Hispanics/Latinos by 2010, accounting for 16% of the total U.S. population. By 2050, 28% of the U.S. population (122 million) is projected to be Hispanic/Latino.
  • Spending power: From 2000 to 2006 the purchasing power of Hispanics/Latinos climbed more than 63% to $798 billion. By 2011 it will top $1.2 trillion, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.
  • Media habits: 75% of Hispanic adults read over 11 magazine issues a month.

This says a few things I find interesting. For one, look at the number of people. The total will account for 16% of the total U.S. population by 2010 and 28% by 2050. That is a lot of people. Add to it the spending power, and you get a picture of why such a market is significant. I did find interesting the little tidbit about reading magazines. At least in the Hispanic communities I have been in, reading magazines is a big part. If you are interested, you can get the complete document for the marketing profile here (PDF file, about 24 pages).

Latinos in the United States face a lot of challenges when it comes to education. I work in an academic institution that is defined by the federal government as a Hispanic-Serving institution.(Find the actual list here). So, naturally, a report like this one on "The Status of Hispanics in Education" (press release here; actual report in PDF over here, warning it is about 90 pages) from the National Education Association is something that would get my attention. In a way, the report does not say anything new, i.e. Hispanic students still lag behind their white counterparts and recommends things like class size reductions. However, it is something that gives me some food for thought, especially as I look at some of the students I get here.

Meanwhile, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has published a report on "Latinos Online: Hispanics with lower levels of education and English proficiency remain largely disconnected from the internet." (Abstract; PDF report). The report finds that Latinos in large measure remain disconnected from the Internet. However, one has to look at some of the numbers to grasp the significance. Some highlights:

  • 56% of Latinos in the U.S. use the Internet. The report points out that Latinos comprise about 14% of the U.S. population, and that half of those Latinos go online.
  • One in three Latinos who only speak Spanish go online. Mexicans, the largest national origin group of Latinos in the U.S. are among the least likely to go online.
  • However, just because they may not be using a computer, it does not mean they are not connecting online. 59% of Latino adults have a cell phone, and 49% of Latino cell phone users do text messaging.
  • To add some context, or more to think about: "Sixty percent of Latino adults were born outside the U.S. Among these immigrants, about two-thirds have lived in the country for 11 years or more. . . . About one-third of Hispanic immigrants are citizens of the United States." Then you have their children. The report discusses them as well.
  • Other Latino groups are addressed as well. For instance, Puerto Ricans, or as the survey calls them, Latinos of Puerto Rican descent. 60% of them use the Internet. The reason is that they are more likely to be born in the U.S. and to speak English. Of those born in the island who migrated to the U.S., they are more likely to have lived in the U.S. for a long time when compared to other Hispanic immigrants. Let me use myself as an illustration: I am island-born, and I am bilingual (I grew up with Spanish at home and English at school). I came to the United States when I was 18, and I have lived in the U.S. ever since (I am in my 30s now if you need to know). I use the Internet a lot (for leisure and work). I may not be the perfect illustration, but I do give an example close to what Pew displays.
The report may hold some implications and points to think about that libraries may find useful as they seek to tailor their services to diverse populations.

Overall, these are some items I have recently come across in my explorations of the Internet. A hat tip to Docuticker, a great resource to get all sorts of reports on various topics. It makes my efforts in current awareness a little easier.

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