U.S. Latino economic output tops $3 trillion for the first time

While impressive for its size, the U.S. Latino GDP is even more noteworthy for its rapid growth.

Dan Hamilton and Matthew Fienup

Latinos in the United States continue to drive the economy forward — as they’ve been doing since the 1500s.

In 2021, according to the 2023 U.S. Latino GDP Report, despite a second year of COVID-19 pandemic conditions, the U.S. Latino total economic output, or GDP, broke the $3 trillion threshold.

The GDP of Latinos in the U.S. was $3.2 trillion in 2021 (the most recent year data are available), up from $2.8 trillion in 2020, $2.1 trillion in 2015 and $1.7 trillion in 2010. If Latinos living in the United States were an independent country, the U.S. Latino GDP would be the fifth largest GDP in the world — larger than the economic output of India, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada or Russia.

While impressive for its size, the U.S. Latino GDP is even more noteworthy for its rapid growth. Latinos in the U.S. propelled the overall economy with a growth of 7.1% in 2021, a full 2 percentage points higher than the growth of non-Latino GDP.

The 2023 U.S. Latino GDP Report is the sixth annual report produced by a team of researchers from Cal Lutheran’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting (CERF) and UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture (CESLAC).

“We see unmistakable evidence that Latinos are drivers of economic growth and an important source of resilience for the broader economy,” said Matthew Fienup of CERF, co-author and the report’s chief economist.

From 2010-21, Latino real wage and salary income grew 3.4% per year, more than twice as fast as non-Latino incomes at 1.5%. The rise in income is the result of Latinos’ rapid gains in education and strong labor force participation.

Also from 2010-21, U.S. Latino real consumption grew 3 times faster than non-Latino consumption, representing a market larger in size than the entire economy of countries like Canada or South Korea.

“These 11 years of data,” Fienup said, “represent the continuation of a centuries-old tradition — of Latinos bettering themselves and their communities and, in doing so, creating economic growth that benefits all.”

David Hayes-Bautista of UCLA, co-author and the report’s chief demographer, said Latinos “have been economically active in what is now the United States since 1513. That’s over 500 years of economic activity. Latino commerce traveled along the Camino Real that stretched from St. Augustine in Florida to San Francisco.”

The report is part of a broad research agenda known as the Latino GDP Project. Separate reports and analyses have been prepared for the United States as well as more than a dozen large metropolitan areas.

The report’s authors make clear that their emphasis on Latino economic drivers “is not intended to make light of the hardship that Latinos endured during the pandemic. Latinos were among the hardest-hit groups. … Instead, we believe that the economic data published in the 2023 U.S. Latino GDP Report honor the sacrifices made by Latinos and illustrate just how vital Latino strength and resilience are for the nation’s economy.”

The full report is available at www.LatinoGDP.us.


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