3 shocking statistics from the first ever Hispanic Leadership Summit

If the 58.9 million U.S. Latinos were their own country, they’d rank eighth overall in terms of national GDP.

“Before you can support America’s job creators, you need to know who they are.”

The line appears in a recent advertising campaign by the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC), in which a bespectacled Hispanic man stares down the camera in a crisp white button-down and tie. He represents the huge number of Latino men and women who are quietly growing businesses in the United States.

“Our economy is critically dependent upon this U.S. Latino cohort, and nobody knows it,” said Sol Trujillo, an American businessman and the co-founder and chair of the LDC. 

As the largest racial or ethnic minority in the U.S., the Latino community wields a lot of influence. And yet experts say the demographic is often misrepresented, attacked or ignored by the wider American population.

When Claudia Romo Edelman, founder of the We Are All Human Foundation and special adviser to the United Nations, discovered that 82% of Hispanics believe their community is undervalued, she decided to hold an event with Latino bigwigs in business, politics and media. The first-ever Hispanic Leadership Summit took place on Dec. 10 at UN headquarters in New York and was comprised of powerhouse panels on how to bolster the U.S. Latino population.

“What if we move from invisible to visible?” Romo Edelman asked. “Let’s dream together, because it’s possible.”

Though the summit focused on strengthening the collective power of Latinos in the U.S., some of the statistics cited by panelists and keynote speakers already emphasized the growing importance of the Hispanic community in America. Here are some of those more staggering numbers.

Hispanics generated $2.13 trillion in gross domestic product in 2015

That’s almost 12% of the U.S.’ total GDP.

To put that in perspective, the U.S.’ 58.9 million Latinos could have their own country and still rank high in terms of national GDP. On a list of the top grossing nations, the U.S. Latino economy would fall eighth overall, according to recent estimates.

Their economy would be akin to India’s — a country that hosts more than a billion people — and would outrank Italy, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Mexico and Spain.

Latino purchasing power is projected to reach $1.7 trillion in 2020

We all tend to underestimate our collective purchasing power. But Latinos especially are major consumers who should be able to influence the companies they patronize.

Still, they gravitate toward industries where they’re not necessarily as represented as they could be. Latinos had the highest moviegoing rate of any ethnic group in 2017 — though they comprise about 18% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 23% of purchased movie tickets. But the year before, Latinos filled less than 3% of roles in major flicks. That means that Hispanics are willing to pay for entertainment, even if they don’t see themselves reflected in it.

That trend can prove a problem, according to Raquel Tamez, CEO of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She said that when Hispanics need experts such as CPAs or lawyers, they rarely seek out other Hispanics. That means that the community is not supporting each other in one of the simplest ways possible: By spending their money in ways that help them grow.

U.S. Latinos accounted for 86% total net new business formations between 2007-2012

During the great recession, as most new business formations declined by 2%, Latino-owned new business formations grew by 47%. Latinos in the U.S. are successful entrepreneurs, and they’re employing a lot of people — even more than their non-Latino counterparts.

There are 11 Latino CEOs on the Fortune 500 list. To a lot of people, that number is surprisingly high. To others, it’s depressingly low. Either way, it signals that Latinos have been able to infiltrate the highest echelons of the business world — and will likely continue to do so as they become a larger percentage of the U.S. population and workforce.

Alexandra Villarreal|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at avillarreal@theladders.com.