The Number of Latina-Owned Businesses in California Has Skyrocketed

Selena fans at the Regent Theater in MayEXPAND
Selena fans at the Regent Theater in May
Samanta Helou/L.A. Weekly

A new report on the "Economic Status of Latinas" found that the number of Latina-owned businesses in California skyrocketed 111 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007. Those businesses employ more than a half million people in the state, the report from Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) found.

"We want to see Latina business owners get the support, the contracts, the capital," HOPE executive director Helen Torres says. "If they have access to those, we see them growing their businesses and hiring more people."

While the numbers are promising, the research also shows that nearly nine out of 10 of those Latina entrepreneurs are solo acts, or sole proprietors, with no employees. And wage disparity continues to haunt Latinas in the Golden State. The difference in earnings between Latinas and white men in California actually grew 5 percent between 2011 and 2015, HOPE found. Latinas earned 43 cents for every dollar a white man earned during that time, the organization reports.

It's worse for Greater Los Angeles: Latinas here earned 37 cents compared with a white man's dollar during that time, according to the report. In Silicon Valley, the figure was 35.5 cents on the dollar. Torres thinks that this reflects how large sectors of the local economies, in this case L.A.'s film and TV business and San Jose's tech industry, keep Latinas at bay.

"When it comes to L.A. and Silicon Valley, where there's an economic engine such as entertainment and tech, there's great opportunity to invest in small business so that the wage gap becomes nonexistent," Torres says. "A lot of the time Latinas are not networked into those industries."

Here are some of the report's other findings:

  • U.S. Latinos saw an above-average income growth rate of 5.2 percent in 2015, an increase that surpassed that of other ethnic groups. Latinos also experienced a 2.2 percent reduction in their poverty rate that year.
  • More than eight out of 10 Latinas in California completed high school in 2015, a 6.9 percent increase in the graduation rate since 2011.
  • One in five people in California — and one in four in L.A. — is Latina.
  • It's estimated that by 2060, one in four women in the United States will have Latino heritage.
  • Latino purchasing power in the United States in 2016 was worth $1.4 trillion; in California that figure is $359 billion. Both numbers were projected to continue to increase.

"The story is that in the Latino community, when we have access to education, when we have the spirit of entrepreneurship, the American dream works well, and we contribute to the economy," Torres says.

The Number of Latina-Owned Businesses in California Has Skyrocketed
HOPE

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