Posted at 12:29 PM
At the Department of Commerce, we were thrilled to see our latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2015, poverty fell, wages rose, and health care coverage increased for Americans nationwide. From the depths of recession, through our recovery, and during our recent economic expansion, the Obama Administration’s laser-like focus on broad-based growth and opportunity is delivering real results to our people.
Yet nowhere were these economic gains felt more strongly than in our Latino community, which encompasses more than 56.6 million people living, working, and raising families across the United States. Between 2014 and 2015, average earnings for Hispanic households grew by 6.1 percent, while poverty declined by more than 2 percent.
The fact that more Latino families are climbing the income ladder is welcome — but not entirely surprising news at the Department of Commerce. That is because over the course of the last seven years, we have seen Hispanic entrepreneurs and business owners play an outsized role in our nation’s recovery.
From California to Florida to New York and everywhere in between, the number of Latino-owned firms across America grew from 2.3 million in 2007 to an estimated 4.1 million today — with revenues nearly doubling from $350 billion to $661 billion. Likewise, in recent years the number of new businesses launched by Latino entrepreneurs has jumped by 44 percent — outpacing every other demographic group in America. And employment by Hispanic-owned firms has increased at nearly double the rate of non-minority businesses.
The extraordinary contributions of Latino entrepreneurs give us much to celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month. We are inspired by people like Jose Andrés, whose culinary innovations are reshaping the restaurant industry, and Nina Vaca, an Ecuadorian immigrant who today is CEO of the high-tech Pinnacle Group — the fastest-growing woman-owned business in America.
We want to see these stories of innovation and entrepreneurship replicated across our nation. That is why during Hispanic Heritage Month, we not only celebrate past progress, but reaffirm our commitment to preparing more Latino entrepreneurs to succeed in today’s fast-paced, global economy. Across the Commerce Department’s 12 bureaus, we provide resources and tools to overcome challenges faced by businesses large and small. At our International Trade Administration (ITA), we break down trade barriers and help identify new export opportunities for our businesses. At our Patent and Trademark Office, we issue patents to American inventors and protect American innovation around the world.
And at the Minority Business Development Agency, or MBDA, our team offers resources to address the barriers often encountered by minority entrepreneurs in our economy. For example, we know that Hispanic Americans unfortunately continue to be underrepresented in high-tech fields. In fact, a recent study from the Kapor Center for Social Impact found that while Latinos comprise seven percent of America’s high-tech workforce, they own just one percent of our high-tech firms.
Our MBDA team has a new effort underway to reduce this disparity called the Inclusive Innovation Initiative — or I-3 for short. Through outreach and education, our team will plug more minority-owned enterprises into one of America’s greatest innovation pipelines: our federal research labs. By bringing more diversity into our labs, I-3 aims to increase transfers of federally-developed technology to minority-owned enterprises. We want to see more Latino entrepreneurs competing in the fast-growing fields of the 21st century, from engineering to advanced manufacturing to the Internet of Things.
The success of Hispanic Americans is inextricably linked to the success of our nation. Throughout President Barack Obama’s tenure in The White House, our Administration has promoted policies that expand opportunity to all Americans, in all communities. With more Latino families climbing the income ladder and driving our economy, we must build on our past progress and continue championing policies that ensure all Americans have a fair shot at the American dream. During Hispanic Heritage Month, we admire the incredible contributions that Latino entrepreneurs make to our economy and celebrate the diversity that always has, and always must, contribute to the economic dynamism of our nation.