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Oregon’s Latino Workforce Growing

EUGENE, Ore. — A new report says Oregon’s Latino population is a growing economic force.

A report from CAUSA reveals the community’s role in the economy.

Local business organizations, like the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, all seem to agree that the Latino population is helping to strengthen our economy.

“I never really had any hang-ups of being Latino. I think with all of the families starting businesses here, they don’t see themselves as obstacles. They just go for the opportunities,” said local business owner Teresa Nanakornpanom.

That’s why Nanakornpanom says she’s not surprised the number of Latino workers is growing in Oregon.

CAUSA used the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey to figure out 67.5 percent of the Latino population is in the workforce.

That’s nearly 3 percent higher than the general population.

“Latino businesses are a growing influence in our state. They are an economic force, and they are a force in the entrepreneurial and small business community,” said Eugene Chamber of Commerce President David Hauser.

For evidence, look no further than the Latino Business Network, which was created in 2006.

“They’re going to provide employment. They’re going to give back to the community, and they’re going to contribute to causes. So it’s important. Their success is important to the regional economy in so many ways,” Hauser said.

Local economists back that up by saying Latinos did very well during the recession.

“In 2010, they had a much lower unemployment rate and there were more Latinos in the workforce than the white population or the two or more race populations. So they actually very much contributed to the economy in 2010,” said WorkSource Lane Analyst Kim Thompson.

Despite the growth, some say it can still be hard to get past the stereotypes.

“It’s tough. I think a lot of the Latino community is struggling right now trying to fit in. I think we all have the same goals. But because of legislation and all that’s going on, it makes it difficult,” said Latino Business Network Chair Alicia Rosen.

Thompson says while a large percentage of Latinos are in the labor force, they make considerably less than other populations. She thinks this could be attributed to the type of work they’re doing.

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