New Boston Indicators report highlights growth and opportunity for Boston’s growing Latino community

Latino population has driven Boston’s population growth, but data show efforts needed to improve access to high-wage, high-value industries

Download Powering Greater Boston’s Economy: Why the Latino Community Is Critical to Our Shared Future.

BOSTON, Massachusetts – A new examination of Boston’s Latino community shows that Latinos have accounted for almost all of Boston’s population growth since 1980, and finds Latinos represent untapped potential if the city is to continue to grow and prosper. The report, Powering Greater Boston’s Economy: Why the Latino Community Is Critical to Our Shared Future, was released this morning at an event hosted by the Latino Legacy Fund at the Boston Foundation, and held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at the event, which featured remarks from Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul Grogan, and two panel discussions moderated by Marcela Garcia, editorial writer for The Boston Globe.

Boston Indicators produced Powering Greater Boston’s Economy in cooperation with the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The city’s data shows that the city’s Latino population grew from 36,259 to 134,432 from 1980 to 2015, representing 92 percent of the city’s total population growth in that time. Latinos now make up 20 percent of the city’s population, and 31 percent of city residents under the age of 17.

“The data show Latinos are making up ever-larger shares of Greater Boston’s population, workforce and economy,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “But what is even more remarkable are the untapped possibilities that remain. If we are to achieve a future of shared prosperity in our city and region, we must recognize and capture the potential energy the Latino community offers.”

The data suggest education provides a critical opportunity. Currently 1-in-3 Latinos over the age of 25 have less than a high school diploma, according to the data. In addition, about 25 percent of Latinos are considered not proficient in English, closing them off from many higher-paying opportunities. As a result, while Latinos are overrepresented in lower-paying jobs such as building maintenance and food preparation, they comprise a much smaller share in higher-paying sectors, such as technology and healthcare, that are expected to see significant job growth in the next decade. 


Nonetheless, Latinos are making a growing impact as business owners, workers and entrepreneurs. Latinos now own more than 10 percent of Boston businesses, and account for $9 billion in Gross Domestic Product in Suffolk County – a nearly tenfold increase since 1980. 

“This report underscores the already significant role more than 130,000 Latino residents of Boston play in the life of this city,” said Aixa Beauchamp, co-founder of the Latino Legacy Fund at the Boston Foundation. “But it highlights, too, that Latinos in Boston do not yet have economic and political power that matches that role. We at the Latino Legacy Fund look forward to using this report as part of efforts to galvanize the city at large to work together with Latinos in Greater Boston and ensure today’s Latino youth have the ability to reach their full potential.”The Latino Legacy Fund at the Boston Foundation, the first Latino-focused fund in Greater Boston, is a unique partnership of Latino philanthropists and leaders, the Boston Foundation and Hispanics in Philanthropy. Its mission is to create and maintain a permanent endowment to strengthen the diverse Latino community. The Latino Legacy Fund is on track to meet its goal of raising $1 million by 2018. In 2017, the Latino Legacy Fund will make its fourth round of grants to organizations targeting the challenges facing the Latino community in Greater Boston.


“Boston’s diverse and growing Latino community already is making tremendous contributions to the region’s cultural and economic life, but its potential is even greater,” the Boston Indicators report concludes. “It’s no exaggeration to say that our city’s future vitality depends on tapping the wellspring of human capital within the Latino community. When Latinos thrive, we all thrive.

*****

The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion. In 2016, the Foundation and its donors made $100 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of more than $107 million. In celebration of its Centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation launched the ongoing Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, the principal endowment fund focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston. The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a distinct operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.