Arizona’s Hispanic population will have an increasingly vital role in the state economy in the years to come, according to a report released last week from the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The 2019 Datos: The State of Arizona’s Hispanic Market found that Hispanic buying power in Arizona has already passed $45 billion and will reach $57 billion by 2022.

Monica Villalobos, the chamber’s president and CEO, shared the report’s findings at an event at the Arizona Biltmore last Friday. 

Villalobos emphasized that Latinos are a “driving force” in Arizona’s economy, according to KTAR. “We are 30% of the state, 40% of Phoenix-metro and more than 50% of our K-12 [public school] system,” Villalobos said. 

The report also found that one in two Hispanic people in Arizona is a homeowner and that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 40.2% from 2012 to 2018, compared to an 18.8% increase for all American businesses.

Latinos also made up nearly 25% of new entrepreneurs in 2017, despite comprising only 18% of the U.S. population.

The impact of these findings hasn’t only benefited Latinos, who saw their unemployment rate fall from 12.1% in 2009 to 4.7% in 2018, but also the American economy as a whole. Latinos are driving small business growth in America, making up nearly a quarter of the net growth of all employer firms from 2014 to 2016.

These findings are particularly relevant for Arizona, which is home to more than 2.3 million Latinos. 

Lisa Urias, managing partner at CoNecs North America, a Phoenix-based brand management agency, highlighted Latinos’ impact on Arizona in an interview with AZ Big Media.

“There are two areas where Latinos have the greatest impact on Arizona’s business community: workforce and consumer spending,” said Urias. “Businesses won’t be able to grow without this critical segment as part of their workforce.”

Perhaps most noteworthy is that Arizona’s Latino community has increased its impact on the economy without growing its population share; the state’s Latino population remained at 30% of the total population from 2014 to 2018. 

The economy will continue to benefit from Latino contributions in the future, as the report found that more than 70% of Hispanic small business owners are under the age of 45 and the median age of Latinos in the U.S is 29. 

Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) attended the event on Friday and praised Hispanics’ contributions to Arizona. 

“Hispanic businesses and entrepreneurs continue to be a driving force in the success of our state and national economy,” Ducey said. 

Despite this progress, the report did have some more sobering findings. 

Latino households still lag far behind non-Hispanic households in overall wealth and assets. Between 2010 and 2016, “Latino households had inflation-adjusted assets amounting for $27,666 as opposed to $235,515 for non-Hispanic households,” the report said.

Hispanics also own retirement accounts at lower rates than all demographics and are over-represented in jobs that offer few benefits. 

The report, which focused on “Elements of a Healthy Community,” went beyond economic impact and also studied topics such as Latinos’ access to healthcare, housing, and educational opportunities.

The full report can be found here.