A new study shows that the Chicago area's Latino population contributes more to their local community than they take from it.
The report [PDF], released Wednesday by the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies and titled "The State of Latino Chicago 2010: The New Equation," provides a powerful counter to long-standing, harmful stereotypes of Latinos as receiving more than they give back to government coffers, according to Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum.
"In economically trying times, with many looking for a scapegoat for our region's fiscal woes, the Institute for Latino Studies once and for all refutes the notion that Latinos are socio-economic drains," Puente told the Chicago Sun-TImes. "Investing in Latinos offers a sound return on investment, helping shape our strong, shared future as a region."
The study found that the Chicago area's Latino population -- 22 percent of the metropolitan area as of the most recent Census count -- comprise 20 percent of the area's labor force. That percentage is expected to rise to 25 percent by 2015. In 2009, they earned $26.2 billion, which represents $12.3 billion in spending power and a total impact of $23 billion on the metropolitan area's economy. Between 2000 and 2010, the city's Latino population grew by 25,000, while the city's population on the whole decreased by 200,000 people.
Additionally, the tax revenues generated by Chicago-area Latinos -- more than $5 billion -- significantly outpace the costs of the public services they utilize -- an estimated $3.9 billion.
"The influence of Latinos on the economic, civic and cultural life of metropolitan Chicago is already enormous and will become much larger still when the current generation of children begins to make its mark in the next few years," Gilberto Cardenas, director of the university's Institute for Latino Studies said in a statement.
At the same time, Latino households earn under two-thirds the median income of Caucasian households. Further, their median income has dropped 13 percent between 1999 and 2008, compared with a decrease of only 8 percent for white Chicagoans.
The report also found that many more Latinos are moving to the Chicago suburbs -- and are doing better than those who live within city limits, WBEZ reports.
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