If the value of all goods and services produced by the Latino community in the U.S. were a standalone economy, it would be the 7th largest in the world. Being a proud Cuban-American, I was amazed when I learned this but not surprised because I see each and every day the incredible contributions of the Latino community.

But let me first share with you my own story.

I was 4 years old when my family migrated from Cuba to the U.S. I grew up listening to the struggles my family faced in our home country, and the challenges acclimating in a new world where they didn’t speak the language.

I saw my parents and grandfather work very hard in factories, while my grandmother stayed at home taking care of me. I learned from her the importance of keeping my Spanish, and boy, did it serve me well in life! My dad told me all the time how blessed I was to live in a country where I could do and be anything I wanted, as long as I worked hard and stayed committed to reaching my goals. He also taught me not to take anything for granted and to always be grateful.

I have applied these values from the very beginning of my career at Herbalife Nutrition as an assistant, and to every role I’ve held since including my current position. And I worked hard no matter my title. I never took an opportunity for granted, and I remain grateful for all of it: the good and the not so good. The obstacles I faced helped me become a better version of myself.

My story is just one of millions of Latinas and Latinos who are proud to build a career and raise a family in the United States. As of 2017, Latino Americans made up 18 percent of the United States population, being the largest minority in the United States with 58.9 million people.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I’d like to share four ways in which Latino Americans, both native-born and immigrants, are enriching our economy:

1. Driving Workforce and Productivity Growth

About a quarter of the U.S. Hispanic population are millennials, which means they have the most potential to drive demographic growth and impact economic and social trends. The median Latino is twenty-nine, compared to thirty-eight for the overall population.

And it’s not just about age: the Latino labor force is expanding three times as fast as the rest of the population. Latinos will account for one out of every two new workers entering the workforce by 2025.

We have to address that demographic potential and make sure Latinos have access to education and health opportunities that will allow them to develop their full potential and continue to contribute to the country’s economy vigorously.

2. Through an Increased Purchasing Power

A critical part of any healthy economy is citizens being able to spend their money on goods and services that can keep businesses in work, thus creating jobs and revenue. Well, Latinos have money to spend and their purchasing power is growing steadily.

From 2010 to 2015, the Latino Americans’ spending power grew by 36 percent which is more than $1.5 trillion. That accounts for nearly 10 percent of total U.S. buying power. Furthermore, the community’s projected purchasing power by 2020 is $1.7 trillion.

Spending also means paying taxes. In 2015, Hispanic households contributed almost $215 billion to U.S. tax revenues as a whole, including almost $76 billion in state and local tax payments.

3. A Strong Entrepreneurial Spirit

Being a young population, Latinos have the motivation, skills and tremendous amount of energy it takes to start a business. In the last decade, they launched 86 percent of all new businesses in the U.S. Accommodation and food services, construction, retail trade, transportation, and warehousing are the most common industries for Latino entrepreneurs.

Today, there are 4.7 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., which contribute more than $800 billion to the economy annually, according to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, these businesses have provided almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. workers.

The cherry on top: Latina-owned companies increased by 87 percent between 2007 and 2012, representing half of all Latino American firms.

At Herbalife Nutrition, we’re proud to provide our independent distributors with an opportunity to create successful small businesses in the health and wellness sector. According to the Direct Sales Association, about 75 percent of people involved in direct selling in 2020 in the United States were women, and about 22 percent of them were Latina.

4. Working in Essential Industries

According to a report from the Department of Labor, 27.7 percent construction workers were Latinos. Other industries with high concentrations of Latinos include agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (23.1 percent) and leisure and hospitality (22.3 percent).

All of these industries are critical to the U.S. economy. In 2015, the agriculture, fishing, forestry, and hunting industry contributed more than $175 billion to the U.S. GDP.

Since Latinos are the youngest ethnic group in the country, their participation in the labor force is expected to increase at a higher rate than that of any other demographic group, thus continuing to power essential industries.

These trends speak loud and clear about just how important the Latino workforce is for the U.S. economy. They also encourage us to think about the relevance of diversity and representation of a community that is becoming increasingly significant for the future of our country.

Ibi Montesino

Ibi MontesinoExecutive Vice President, Chief of Staff

As executive vice president and Chief of Staff, Ibi Montesino helps the company deliver on its purpose of helping people live their best lives. In her role as Chief of Staff, she oversees all global distributor facing business, including sales, marketing and distributor operation functions, as well as all aspects of employee management and relations. Furthermore, she is helping the company achieve gains in productivity and impact, and execute on strategic, operational, and cultural agendas.