Thursday, February 12, 2009

The challenges of a “giant, young Hispanic population”

The challenges of a “giant, young Hispanic population”

By Juan Castillo | Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 12:00 PM

In sports, coaches are fond of saying that statistics are for losers. In government, numbers carry considerable weight, often driving policy-making decisions. Whether the wealth of data to emerge from City Demographer Ryan Robinson’s analysis of socioeconomic indicators for Hispanics in Austin will lead to new government policies remains to be seen. But even Robinson, who cranks out numbers for a living, thinks some of the findings are stunning. Like this one: Hispanic youths now comprise 50 percent of all persons younger than 18 in Austin. That Austin’s soaring Hispanic population is young has been known for some time, but the new census estimates that form the basis of Robinson’s analysis convey a greater sense of urgency. “If you have a giant, young Hispanic population here, you need to educate them, prepare them to be fully integrated into the workforce and to participate economically,” Robinson said. “If you don’t, you’re selling the city as a whole short.”

Robinson prepared his 35-page analysis for the city’s new Hispanic Quality of Life Initiative, which will explore whether socioeconomic gaps exist for Latinos in Austin, and what if anything the city can do.

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