April 23, 2014

La Florida

Florida's Hispanic Population

Diverse, powerful and political, Hispanics in Florida are not easy to pigeonhole.

Mike Vogel | 4/30/2013

» Class is important. "An upper-middle class Argentinian will have more in common with an upper, middle-class Colombian or Mexican than an upper, middle-class Mexican will have with a lower-class Mexican," says Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a University of Central Florida history professor who has researched immigration to Florida.

Buying Power in Florida
(in billions of dollars)
Hispanic Total (all consumers)
1990 $19.7 $226.8
2000 47.3 407.5
2010 104.8 665.1
2012 212.8 727.6
Source: Selig Center For Economic Growth, University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

» The Hispanic-ization of Florida isn't just a topic for armchair demographers. Hispanic buying power in Florida boomed to $212.8 billion in 2012, up 980% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. That number doesn't include tourist spending, notes center director Jeffrey Humphreys. Hispanics account for 29% of consumer buying power in Florida, according to Selig research. Not only are Hispanics the fastest-growing consumer segment in Florida, says University of Florida's Philip J. Williams, but they also comprise a young segment. Navigating the Hispanic market requires expertise in knowing who comprises the market -- working-class Guatemalans or South American elites -- and knowledge of cultural and language nuances that vary from Hispanic nationality to nationality and recognition that different nationalities and generations are at different stages of assimilation and acculturation. Even Hispanic-owned businesses have to navigate. Navarro Discount Pharmacy, a Miami Hispanic chain expanding into Tampa and Orlando, targets Mexicans at a Homestead store with a large selection of chili peppers, Mexican beers and Jarritos soft drinks while targeting Puerto Ricans and Venezuelans in Pembroke Pines with different brand-name products.

» Time of arrival affects outlook. An older Cuban has vivid memories of fear, reprisals, seizure of property, killings and the threat of death. A young Cuban immigrant has no such memories, and his parents may have no memory, of Cuba without Castro and socialism but might have very strong memories of the "Special Period," the hardships and economic depression in Cuba during the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

» Take Miami-Dade out of the equation -- both Hispanics and non-Hispanics -- and Florida's Hispanic population drops to just under 16%, below the national level of 16.4%. Subtract Broward as well, and Florida looks like Connecticut or Illinois.

» For a state commemorating the 500th year since a Spanish explorer came ashore, Florida has few Spaniards. Only about 48,815 in the 2010 Census in Florida described themselves as of Spanish ancestry -- about three-tenths of 1% of Florida's population. Spain places 14th on the list of source countries and territories of Hispanic Floridians. They are widely spread out.

Tags: La Florida, Hispanics in Florida

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