By Marlysa D. Gamblin
This is the first blog post of a four-part series on the theme of “Latinos: Powering the U.S. Economy to End Hunger” in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. The focus of this blog post is Latino contributions to the U.S. GDP.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a national holiday held every year from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to pay tribute to Latinos in America who positively influence and enrich our nation. This year, Bread for the World is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by lifting up four areas where Latinos are making important contributions to reducing hunger and poverty, whether here in the United States or abroad. The four blogs focus on Latino contributions to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the U.S. workforce, U.S. tax revenues, and remittances, which help curb hunger in Mexico as well as Central and Latin America.
This week, we are celebrating how Latinos help power the U.S. economy in very significant ways. Latinos as a group generate $2.13 trillion in GDP. GDP, the total value of everything produced by each person and company in the country, is a widely-accepted way of measuring a country’s economy. If this $2.13 trillion in Latino production belonged to a separate country, it would have the 7th largest GDP in the world.
Aside from the fact that it’s inspiring information, this data tells us a larger story. A rising national GDP indicates that our country’s economy is getting stronger. With a stronger economy, our country is better positioned to end hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal that the United States and 194 other countries adopted two years ago. And the fact that the 7th largest GDP in the world “lives” here in the United States and is counted as part of the U.S. GDP suggests that much of the strength of the U.S. economy is due to the economic power of the Latino community.
When you think about it, it is a rather simple concept. A stronger Latino community makes for a larger Latino GDP, which results in an even stronger U.S. economy. By the same token, a weaker Latino community means a lower U.S. GDP and, subsequently, higher hunger and poverty rates. One of many reasons that it is unacceptable to cut funding for programs that provide critical support to lower-income Americans is that this will very likely reduce Latinos’ ability to contribute to the economy, which in turn will weaken the U.S. GDP.
To avoid this, we must preserve and even strengthen programs that protect lower-income people from hunger and poverty, such as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), Medicaid, Medicare, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and others. A stronger Latino community translates into a larger Latino GDP and a more robust national GDP.
So, let’s use this time during Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate this significant contribution. Without Latinos maintaining businesses that add to our domestic production and spending their money on goods and services that other U.S. companies produce, our country would not have the strong GDP that we have now. And for that, we should honor the role that Latinos have in building a stronger U.S. economy, one that will enable us to end hunger and poverty by 2030.
Marlysa D. Gamblin is domestic advisor for policy and programs for specific populations at Bread for the World Institute.