Hispanic-owned businesses have nearly doubled over the last decade, a rate more than twice than the average national business growth rate during that period, according to a new study released Friday.
The study, commissioned by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Geoscape, a company that crunches demographic data, analyzed Census stats to project that the count of Hispanic-owned businesses in the country has skyrocketed to 3.2 million, up from nearly 1.7 million in 2002.
The business trend reflects the spike in the country’s Latino population — now up to 53 million. The chamber’s study showed Latino businesses grew on average at nearly 7 percent annually from 2007 to 2013, compared to the average 3 percent overall business growth rate.
Among American minority groups, Hispanics are the most likely to start their own businesses, the study concluded.
The annual report is a first for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and was, in part, purposely released to "change the narrative" in Washington involving the current immigration reform debate in Congress, recently sidelined by the crisis in Syria.
"Everybody approached immigration reform from a civil rights perspective or a family unity perspective,” Javier Palomarez, the chamber’s president and CEO, told Fox News Latino. “This is an opportunity to weigh in from an economic perspective and remind America of the power of immigrant-owned businesses.”
The study found the majority of Hispanic entrepreneurs are recent adult immigrants, who prefer Spanish over English, or third-generation, English-dominant, Hispanics.
Geoscape split Latino entrepreneurs into five categories, based on the degree in which they've adapted to American culture, language and traditions.
Those who come as immigrant adults and have lived in the country for a decade or longer and tend to prefer to speak Spanish, make up 16 percent of the nation's Hispanic population but account for 26 percent of Hispanic entrepreneurs. The youngest and most assimilated Hispanics make up 17 percent of the Hispanic population but make up 38 percent of the community’s business owners.
"For all of those that want to put up higher (border) walls, think about who is going to create jobs in the future," said Cesar Melgoza, CEO of Geoscape.
"Latino immigrants are disproportionately establishing their own businesses (which) contribute to the tax base and gross national product. On a per-capita basis, Latino immigrants are more likely to employ your grandchildren," Melgoza said, providing his analytical takeaway of what the numbers mean.
Palomarez, not shy about donning an advocate’s hat, said America needs to start coming to grips with the notion that Latino immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents as children, so-called “Dreamers,” are the future.
"Imagine the positive impact of 11 million undocumented individuals to earn their way into citizenship, imagine the entrepreneurial power of that legislation alone," he said.
Underscoring the growth of the nation’s fastest-growing population, the study found, Hispanic businesses in the South Atlantic states, such as Florida, will surpass the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in Pacific states, such as California, by the end of the year.
From 2007 to 2013, Latino businesses grew in the Pacific by 32 percent while they grew by 52 percent in the South Atlantic and East South Central, the study concluded.
Furthermore, the study found Hispanic business owners are 66 percent more likely than Hispanics overall to earn $100,000-$150,000 a year and three times as likely to earn in excess of $150,000 — particularly important for the Latino community, which lags enormously behind white households in wealth creation. A Pew Research Center study in 2009 found the median wealth of white households is 18 times that of Hispanic households.
“The American public has to decide do you want to support these entrepreneurs and the American economy or do we want to be a passive participant in the process?” asked Melgoza. “Think about retirement and who is going to employ our children and grandchildren, we ought to think about ways of nurturing that.”
Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) and a reporter for Fox News Latino (FNL). Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas