The Results Confirm What We Already Know: U.S. Latinos Are an Incredibly Complex Bunch

Oct 22, 2013
9:48 AM

Have we finally arrived at a neat formula to understand the U.S. Latino American?

Looking over Nielsen’s newest study on the Latino Communities of the Tri-State Region, not really.

In fact, the new report provides cold-hard data to support what we already know, quoting another Latino Rebels contributor: “The idea of a more unified Latino voice –and what that voice will eventually evolve into– is happening right now.”

If this report is any indication, the unified Latino voice we end up with may remain a harmonious cacophony. And that’s ok. At least for me, but it certainly may have marketers, policymakers, any other non-Latinos in America trying to figure out exactly how to speak/listen to us. For those, these key findings are a good way to start making sense of it all:


The Latino American is diverse. No shocker here for us, but still, it’s a point many still don’t get. Remember FOX’s taco fiasco So, yes, as obvious as this may be for some, Nielsen’s finding remains an important one to acknowledge. Not only are we diverse, but we are more diverse today than before.

“For decades, the Latino communities of the New York Region were dominated by a presence of Latinos from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, including, especially Puerto Rico and to a lesser extent Cuba. But in the aftermath of changes to U.S. immigration laws in 1965 and 1986, and with fewer Puerto Ricans and Cubans opting to settle in New York and Northern New Jersey, the New York Region is now home to one of the most diverse Latino communities in the nation.”

Move over el Barrio. Rockland County is where it’s at. According to Nielsen, community matters, and 70% of the population still concentrates in traditionally Latino counties. Latinos in the New York and Tri-State Region maintain strong ties to communities historically known as Latino enclaves. Yet, at the same time, great growth is also occurring in neighborhoods yet untouched by our diaspora.

As the data shows, there is little question that the bulk of the Latino community in the New York region is concentrated in a small umber of counties. But as much as the Latino experience may be defined by its large concentration in these areas, the population is growing most rapidly elsewhere in the region. (p. 8 of the report)

Language still matters. During Nielsen’s presentation of its findings, José Calderón Dávila shared that 10 years ago, the expectation would have been for Latinos to assimilate more and more to mainstream America (whatever that is). English would reign supreme. This is not what happened. Spanish, English, and Spanglish are King in most Latino American households. Let the racist Tweets about this being America begin.

…among those between the ages of 18 and 65, more than 40% report speaking English and Spanish very well…Latinos, even those without expressed fluency in Spanish have a deep and abiding interest in the language of their parents and grandparents. More than 90% of Latinos in the United States say they want their children to speak Spanish and many Latino adults raised as English-speakers express an interest in reading, watching and exploring Spanish language media. (15 of report).

We truly are rebels. While the rest of America is getting older, Latinos are getting younger and younger. As the report states, “across the country, data suggest that Latinos continue to trend younger than their non-Hispanic peers.” They account for 30% of all children under 4 in the region. Not only, that, but in the coming years Latinos will be entering the labor force at a higher rate than their counterparts. If people don’t begin to truly understand this dynamic and act on it with authenticity, the opportunity will be lost.

Fusion, or as some of the panelists at the event called it, “ambiculture” is the new conversation space.  Ok, so this was not an actual conclusion reached by the report but a theme prevalent in the discussion about the report put together by Nielsen, The Hispanic Federation, and El Diario. It is certainly underlying in the findings. Many Latinos go from Spanish to English, from watching Instructions not Included to Gravity (Yep, the one directed by Mexican Alfonso Cuarón). Forward-thinking platforms such as Remezcla and the newly-launched Fusion (ABCs and Univision’s lovechild) already recognize the dual microphones they must carry to speak to our community. Will this now be the new trend? That remains to be seen.

Now, the bad news. According to Nielsen, “While Latinos have a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, they are disproportionately represented in the region’s lowest income levels.” What? We have more buying power but lower annual incomes? Not to worry. 40.7% of Hispanic households have a yearly income of 50,000 or more. Just as were are overrepresented in the lowest income brackets, we are making headways in the middle- and top-income brackets.

There’s much more to be learned from this report and much remains to be done to better understand what matters to U.S. Latinos. Missing from the report are issues of race (that we clearly know plague our community) and sexuality. How do these impact/shape the community? The face of the American Latino?

Regardless of what remains to be done, the Report points to an underlying interesting trend: With the passing of time, Latino ties to their countries and yes to an undefined/muddy sense of Latino identity has only become stronger. That this is the case, should inform how we are seen, spoken to, and listened to. It should affect the way we ourselves do this.


Suset Laboy is a New York-based freelance writer and public relations consultant. You can follow Suset on Twitter @SusetLaboy.

You can read the full report here.

Nueva York and Beyond: The Latino Communities of the Tri-State Region by Latino Rebels