Frank Norton | News Observer
North Carolina Hispanics contribute $9 billion to the state’s economy through purchases, taxes and labor, a new study by researchers at UNC Chapel Hill shows.
The figure — less than 3 percent of the state’s economic output — could double by 2009 if recent migration trends continue, researchers estimate.
The study, commissioned by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the Mexican Consulate of Raleigh, is the first to attempt to quantify the economic impact of Hispanics in North Carolina.
Backers of the research said it will identify new business opportunities and highlight a range of public policy issues regarding both documented and undocumented Hispanic workers.
“North Carolina policy makers and business leaders now have a wealth of data and information on which to make decisions about both challenges and opportunities offered by this increasingly significant segment of our state’s population and economy,” said Thad Woodard, president and CEO of the N.C. Bankers Association.
Key issues for bankers include the right to work and access to credit for undocumented workers, which the industry roundly supports. Among the study’s findings:
—North Carolina’s Hispanic population totaled 600,913, or 7 percent of the state’s total population, in 2004. The figure is about 20 percent higher than the U.S. Census Bureau tally.
—Hispanics accounted for 27.5 percent of the state’s population growth from 1990 to 2004 and 57 percent of the total enrollment growth in North Carolina Public Schools from 2000 to 2004.
—Hispanics filled 1 in 3 new jobs created in North Carolina between 1995 and 2005. The most significant concentration is in construction, where they make up 29 percent of the labor force.
—North Carolina Hispanics earned about $8.3 billion after taxes in 2004, with about 20 percent of that total sent home to Latin America, saved or used for interest payments.