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'Representation is critical' | Hispanics in the labor force

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are about 4 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S.

SACRAMENTO, California — Hispanics are driving the labor force growth in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of Hispanic workers in the labor force has grown from 10 million in 1990 to 29 million in 2020. By 2030, Hispanics are expected to account for one out of five workers.

Hispanics are represented more in the labor force compared to others because they tend to be younger and in the prime age working group, 25-54 years old, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data shows the median age of Hispanic workers is 38 compared with 42 for the entire population.

Hispanics are also more active in the labor force in the greater Sacramento region, standing at 67% compared to 60% of other workers. The region includes Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties.

The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce promotes and develops business growth in the greater Sacramento region. In 2021, the Chamber released a Hispanic Economic Report to provide a summary of the employment, educational and socioeconomic status of the Hispanic population locally. 

Credit: Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The report shows Hispanics remain overrepresented in certain occupational fields, locally, with 66% in farming, fishing, and forestry; 46% in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; and 36% in construction.

Even though Hispanics are still overrepresented in service jobs, they now make up 10% of workers in management positions, nationally. That's up from 5% in 2000. More of them are also getting into business ownership. 

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According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are about 4 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. The number of Hispanic business owners has grown 34% in the last 10 years nationwide. 

The State of Latino Entrepreneurship 2020 report from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative also shows Latinos are starting businesses at a faster rate than anyone else. 

In the greater Sacramento region, about 13% of Hispanic workers are in management and business. Despite the slight growth, locally and nationally, the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is encouraging more representation in business ownership and other industries, like education and healthcare.

Credit: Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

"We want to make sure that people realize there are a lot of different options, even in places where we say that you're overrepresented," said Cathy Rodriguez Aguirre, President and CEO, Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "If you're someone in construction, you might have started there, but what a lot of people do not realize is that a lot of them go on to become business owners. They learn the craft, watch what's going on and become a business owner."

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Julio Ortiz is one of many Hispanic-business owners in Sacramento. Ortiz was born in Mexico. He's been living in the greater Sacramento region for about 22 years now. 

Ortiz owns Gaspachos USA and Gaspachos 2.0. It's a family-owned small business on a mission "to make authentic, Mexican inspired fruit cups, superior quality products, and provide exceptional customer service."

"The traditional gazpacho has mango, jicama and pineapple," Ortiz said. "We add a little bit of orange juice, lime juice, and chile powder. You just eat it as a snack."

Credit: Julio Ortiz

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Ortiz followed in his father's footsteps and became a field worker. From there, he attended Sacramento State University. Upon graduation, Ortiz sought mentorship in business development.

"My dad still works in the fields," Ortiz said. "I was lucky enough to work in the fields. I think it's time we do right by field workers. Working in the field is not easy at all. We got tons of talent and we want to be part of the economy."

Through hard work and dedication, Ortiz rose in corporate America, eventually becoming vice president for a national bank. In 2010, he partnered with siblings to offer gazpachos to people at local festivals each month.

Credit: Julio Ortiz

"We wanted to bring something together with my siblings to showcase a little of our culture," said Ortiz. "Fast forward to today, we're doing farmers markets, festivals, and we've now got two store fronts."

Ortiz, along with family members, opened Gaspachos USA in 2019. The store is located at 5385 Franklin Blvd., Suite L, in Sacramento. The new storefront is Gaspachos 2.0. It opened last Thursday at the Howe 'Bout Arden plaza at 1600 Ethan Way, Suite 70, in Sacramento. A grand opening is planned for this summer.

"Representation is critical," Ortiz  said. "Whether you're a minority, woman or part of the LGBTQ community, you got to step up, raise your hand and say, 'I want to be the voice for my community and I want to represent.' There's no better time than now."


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