Hispanics are a growing driver of Idaho’s economy, with millions in spending power – Oregon Capital Chronicle
Restaurateurs. Importers of handicrafts from Mexico. A horticulturist. A photographer. A family with untapped savings.
Almost all racial and ethnic groups in Idaho have seen their purchasing power grow faster than the 10-year U.S. average, according to a new report from the Idaho Department of Labor. But with an increasing number of Hispanic Idahoans in the workforce and the creation of small businesses, the purchasing power of the Hispanic population is skyrocketing.
The purchasing power of Hispanics in Idaho increased by 65% between 2010 and 2020, according to the report.
“Hispanic consumer spending market share is expected to grow 42% – from $6.4 million in 2020 to $9.1 million by 2025,” says the reportwhich is based on estimates from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
(The report) highlights how important it is to recognize the value of Idaho’s diversity, and as it becomes more diverse, the richer it becomes.
– Craig Shaul, Idaho Department of Labor Research Analyst Supervisor
More than 1 in 8 people in Idaho are Hispanic and/or Latino, according to the United States Census Bureau — which means they are from or descend from Spanish-speaking and/or Latin American countries. That share of the population is growing but, as the report notes, its share of Idaho’s purchasing power remains disproportionately low, even after its recent extraordinary gains.
“Honestly, we’re not terribly surprised” by the results, said Mari Ramos, director of operations for the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The fundamental mission of the chamber is to support the growth of Hispanic businesses, which translates into purchasing power.
“It’s nice to see people realizing the benefits” of Idaho’s growing Hispanic population, she said.
The chamber’s mission is to grow Idaho’s Hispanic business community, including budding business owners and entrepreneurs. Upcoming chamber events range from networking meetings over coffee to a Spanish class on how to use Google to make a business more visible online.
“The more successful the community, the better the buying power,” Ramos said.
The chamber helps members at every stage of their business life, from people looking to open a restaurant to long-time restaurateurs who need a transition plan so they can move on to the next chapter of their lives. Recent success stories also include a handmade pottery retailer, a horticulturist and a photographer, she said.
“I think that’s where we come in, isn’t it? We try to help our Hispanic community… try to help them see their business opportunities,” Ramos said. “To be able to have more of the wealth that is in our community. Don’t just be the employee; be the employer.
Ramos noted that Idaho’s Hispanic population “also tends to be fiscally conservative,” which makes the community more resilient in times of economic crisis.
But much of that purchasing power remains untapped, she said. Businesses in Idaho are ignoring a large and growing segment of the population when they advertise only in English, she said.
Craig Shaul, supervisor of research analysts at the Idaho Department of Labor, said employers too were missing a segment of the economy.
“At the same time, there is a skills and training potential in the workforce here that is not necessarily tapped as much as it should be,” he said.
Employers need workers for specific jobs, where speaking a second language is essential at work. But there is a hiring deficit. The state needs more people who speak English as a second language to be trained for these jobs – or more workers who are already trained to be trained in a second language.
Ramos has noticed that more companies are marketing to the Hispanic community and running ads in Spanish on radio and television. But she can think of only a handful of big Idaho companies, like McDonald’s and Dutch Bros., that have started marketing their products to Latinos and Hispanics.
Many Hispanics in Idaho speak English as a second language, or fluently.
“Spanish is still their first language; it’s still their language of comfort,” Ramos said. “Marketers are missing. … There’s a big part of the community there that your marketing isn’t reaching, because it’s not in Spanish.
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