Highlighting Houston’s Hispanic Impact

A construction worker wearing a hard hat carefully measures wood beams. DenGuy/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Latino hands helped build Houston. Every local building, street, highway and bridge contain the fingerprints of Latino laborers. Yet, Houston Hispanics hold the second highest prevalence of poverty.

A college student wearing a cap and gown stands with her parents in a field. Photo courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune

A report from the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican-American Studies (CMAS) sheds light on the impact of Latinos on Houston. The report highlights that foreign-born Latinos make up about 15% of Houston’s population while also constituting one-fifth of the labor force.

“Latino adults in the labor force contribute significantly to essential areas of the economy, like construction, services and manufacturing, which will be essential for the Houston region’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gabriela Sanchez-Soto, a visiting scholar at CMAS and author of this report.

With such a big impact on Houston’s infrastructure, it comes as a surprise that Latinos are so inundated with poverty in the city. The CMAS report provides the data necessary to illuminate employers and decision-makers in Houston as to the benefits attached to providing Latinos better, much deserved, economic opportunities. 

For example, the CMAS report reveals that today’s Latino immigrants are better-educated than those that preceded them. Almost 27% of immigrants who came to the states since 2015 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Further, Latinos account for almost a billion dollars a year in economic impact on the Houston metropolitan area. And that’s with predominantly laborious jobs like construction and food industry work or low-level administrative jobs. Now, imagine if Latinos were given greater economic opportunities. 

“It is essential that all stakeholders in the region, whether governmental or private entities, take advantage of Latinos’ qualifications by integrating them into commensurate occupations,” said Jeroinmo Cortina, associate professor of political science at UH and associate director of CMAS, who oversaw the research.

Category: Local Economy

Share this story