The Latinos are Coming! Actually, We’re Already Here

Posted: Apr 21 2014

Recently, Nielsen, that long-established market and media research entity, released their annual update of Hispanic populations in cities across the United States. Tracking Hispanic populations across the 210 markets that makes up Nielsen’s version of the US provides a glimpse for media companies and their advertising clients to consider how the Hispanic market is evolving.

Over the last decade, what has emerged from Nielsen’s Hispanic DMA ranks is a predictable “who’s who” list of Hispanic-based markets, including such regular top-rank placeholders like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Miami. (Isn’t it interesting that “market” is the term Nielsen employs – not city, town or community? But I digress.) While many of these traditional top markets witnessed an average growth in Hispanic populations of 15-20% since 2000, that wasn’t the big news.

Nielsen’s big reveal focused on the Southeast’s explosive growth for Hispanic populations.  These “non-traditional” markets (cities with populations of at least 200,000, according to Nielsen) increased their Hispanic residents more than 100% since 2000. Charlotte, N.C. ranked first with the highest increase of 168%. Four of the top ten growth markets were located in Florida while Atlanta was the third fastest growing market with a 126% increase since 2000.  These markets offer a glimpse of what a list of the next generation of Hispanic population centers might look like. And while Hispanics have always been present beyond the “traditional” Hispanic hubs, Nielsen’s latest Hispanic DMA update highlights the significant growth and evolution of an important demographic segment to the United States over the last decade.

Since these high-growth markets cluster largely in a single US region, could we see a redistribution of the Hispanic gravitational political, economic and cultural weight away from the Southwest and large city centers.?  No doubt, the long historical footprint of Hispanics in the Southwest and in the largest cities will continue to dominate the Latino imagination and history. 

But change is here.

And I’m left wondering what impact the increased presence of Hispanics in the Southeast will have? I recently relocated to Atlanta.

Atlanta, the economic and – arguably – the creative hub of the region is starting to make room in its identity to accommodate this new presence. Hispanic organizations and stores are already starting to spring up throughout the Atlanta suburbs, especially in areas along Buford highway, parts of Duluth, and some neighborhoods in Smyrna.  Also, annually Atlanta hosts the Festival Peachtree Latino which is the largest multicultural event in the Southeast.  And i'll definitely have more to report in the future as I settle into life in Southeast.  It'll be interesting to watch this multicultural change take place for sure.

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Follow Liza Trevino  @GenX_texmex

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