From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM)! This month gives us the opportunity to celebrate culture and learn about Americans’ diverse histories.  America’s population is getting increasingly more diverse, even right here in our great state of Indiana. This diversity is something to be celebrated; in fact, the Hispanic population in Indiana is one of the fastest growing communities in the state. Since 2000, the Hispanic population in Indiana has grown by nearly 82 percent!

HHM is a chance for us to not only celebrate the diversity in our state but also the diversity in the Hispanic population as well. Not all Hispanic Hoosiers look alike or have identical cultures and traditions. The U.S. Census Bureau considers the classification of Hispanic/Latinx (check out our other post to see the differences/similarities between Hispanic and Latinx) an ethnicity, not a race. Therefore, we have many races represented in Indiana’s Hispanic communities! Currently, about 7 percent of Hoosiers identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Out of that population, about 46 percent are white and 42 percent are some other race alone. The below chart uses population numbers from 2010.

 

 

Hispanic Hoosiers also have family lineages from many parts of the globe.  Check out how Indiana’s Hispanic communities are broken down here:

Now, you may think that all or most of our Hispanic communities are immigrants from these countries and territories. However, two thirds of Indiana Hispanic residents are native-born citizens!

As you can see, Indiana has a thriving Hispanic population with a number of different races and cultures represented. Indiana is truly a diverse state! But, what does this mean to Indiana as a whole? Why should you care?

In short, our state’s economy depends on the participation, hard work, creativity and intelligence of Hispanic Hoosiers! Our Mexican community alone has a sales tax impact of $230 million, and the entire Hispanic population has an impact of over $400 million. However, this doesn’t even consider other taxes such as public safety taxes or income taxes. When you account for all of these factors, the Hispanic population can have a $7 billion statewide economic impact in one year. That’s huge!

In addition, the economic influence of Latinx-owned businesses throughout the state is massive. In 2014, for example, “combined annual revenue of Hispanic-owned businesses was projected to exceed $486 billion in the state of Indiana, an increase of $18 billion since the year prior.” Indiana’s Hispanic businesses are literally pumping billions of dollars into our state’s economy. That’s a fact that’s very hard to ignore.

Finally, it would be remiss to ignore the large contribution Hispanic workers have had on Indiana’s agricultural economy. Agriculture is king in our state, and this is a field that heavily relies on seasonal manual labor with tough working conditions. The majority of these seasonal agriculture jobs are ones that domestic residents are not interested in. Many farms rely on immigrant workers, most of the time Hispanic workers, to fill these jobs and support the agriculture economy. In fact, according to a National Pork Producers Council study, the loss of immigrant workers would lead to between a 3.4 percent and 5.5 percent decrease in agricultural jobs that are filled. Now, these agricultural jobs are usually low-paid positions and are very labor-intense. We can’t discount the ways our Hispanic population has helped the state’s agriculture industry thrive by taking these difficult and low-paying jobs.

As you can see, Hispanic Hoosiers have done a great deal for our state – Indiana has a lot to be thankful for! We are lucky to be home to a diverse population of Hispanic residents, and we are doubly lucky for their many contributions to our state. This HHM, let us celebrate the state’s Hispanic communities and culture and keep pushing for policies that can help our fellow Hoosiers thrive. Indiana will only be successful when we embrace our diversity and the benefits that it beings.

¡Todos son bienvenidos!