We’re fascinated by this report from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Regional Snapshot: Latinos in our Region, which explains why we need to pay attention to the growth of the Latino population in Chicago. If you don’t have a few hours to pour through the details, here are some highlights:
- Latinos are expected to make up most of the region’s population growth between now and 2040.
- In 1970, one of every 20 residents was Latino, but today one of every five people in the region is of Latino origin.
- Between 1970 and 1990, the region’s overall population would have declined if not for the growth in Latinos.
- The Latino population in the region is expected to increase from 1.4 million in 2000 to 3.5 million in 2040, at which point more than 30 percent of the region’s residents will be Latino.
- More Latinos now live in suburban areas than in Chicago.
- The number of linguistically isolated Spanish-speaking children (that is, households where no adults speak English fluently) increased more significantly in the suburbs, by over 47 percent, and decreased slightly in the city of Chicago.
- Only 11 percent of Latinos in the region in 2006 had college degrees, compared to 18 percent for African-Americans, 41 percent for White residents, and 61 percent for Asians.
The importance of increasing the education level of Latinos is imperative to the overall growth and stability of our region. If Latinos are the fastest-growing population, their earning potential – which CMAP proves is based on education level – can make or break our local economy.
We need to better equip our Latino neighbors, both adults and children. Proper language instruction, workplace translations and improved cultural competence by all Chicagoans is not just a nice gesture to this fast-growing population, it is a requirement to sustaining our population numbers and our economic competitiveness.