Latino Branding and Advertising  Linking You to the Hispanic Market 


Coming to the US

Contributions to the Labor Pool

Questions for Marketers

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Lazos News Brief - Immigrant Growth in US

- by Cristina Benitez

An Immigrant - any person born outside the US.

52% Come From Latin America

In March 2003, the US Census Bureau estimated that the nation's foreign-born population last year numbered 32.5 million, accounting for 11.5 percent of the total U.S. population. Among the foreign-born population, 52 percent were born in Latin America, with 66 percent coming from Central America and Mexico. According to The Pew Hispanic Center,* Mexico contributes more to the U.S. labor force than any other foreign country.

Prior to September 11, the Bush administration and Mexico were in negotiations to improve and facilitate their immigration policies. Since that time, the discussion has stalled and now with US at War with Iraq, they are at a standstill. In spite of the political impasse and heightened security, approximately one thousand Mexicans cross the border daily. Why is the US experiencing this surge in population and how do we benefit from it?

Coming to the US

During a trip to Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico in March of 2003, I asked a cross-section of Mexicans what motivated them to emigrate to the US. I questioned cab drivers, shopkeepers, waiters, housekeepers and gardeners. The study preceded the start of the War with Iraq, which for some of the participants appeared to cause a bias against the US.

A number of the respondents, regardless of their income, said they were perfectly happy in Mexico and had no desire to come. Although they didn't have the financial ability to purchase certain material goods or have the "creature comforts" available in the US, they found that living in Mexico was less hectic and demanding, and they opted for a "peaceful" life in Mexico.

Those people wanting to come to the US, would come to study, improve their English language skills, and simply to earn more money, where the wages are higher than in Mexico. For many, they planned to send the major portion of their income home to their families in Mexico - in 2001, $9.3 billion was sent into Mexico.

Others came to the US because of the aspiration of the American Dream, educational advancement and the social mobility. This group saw that the US offered advantages they couldn't attain in Mexico. Regardless of the reasons, both groups contribute to the labor pool that is the backbone of the US economy.

Contributions to the Labor Pool

In the 90's, Mexicans in Illinois paid $7.2 billion in taxes.

The Pew Hispanic Center observes that for nearly a century, the U.S. has relied on Mexican migrant workers to fill domestic labor shortages in nearly every area of U.S. commerce. Immigration trends show that the foreign-born population continues to get younger. Although the age structure varies by country of origin, and the median age for the US Hispanic population is 26, the over-all longevity of the U.S. workforce is increasing due to the large number of young people. This influx of foreign-born workers not only fills jobs that are not wanted by US workers, but the youthful workers will be an effective solution to a future labor shortage, when "baby boomers" reach the age of retirement. Moreover, the social security paid by immigrants will help finance the retirement of the aging US population.

Questions for Marketers

Immigration patterns have increased the need to examine marketing strategies. Does your market share include a Latino segment? In a current article from American Demographics, on trends for the next twenty-five years, Vickie Abrahamson states, "If a company today is concentrating solely on a white audience, then it is living in a galaxy, far, far away."

Do you understand the cultural nuances of the different Latino nationalities and how they effect communication strategies? Is it time to re-evaluate your efforts toward the this growing market?

*B. Lindsay Lowel and Robert Suro. "How Many Undocumented: The numbers behind the U.S.-Mexico Migration Talks," The Pew Hispanic Center, March 2002.

** Alison Stein Wellner, "The Next 25 Years" American Demographics, April 2003.



For more information on the Latino Market, contact:

Cristina Benitez e-mail:

Lazos Latinos

call 312-280-1224 fax 312-280-8424