Framing discussions in fact

Latino economic-profile and impact study reveals previously underreported data of largest population in Long Beach

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Courtesy CSULB Economics Department
Statistics from the Latino Economic Profile and Impact Report shows that 44.5 percent of Long Beach’s population is Latino.

When Jessica Quintana, executive director for the Latino social-service agency nonprofit Centro CHA, approached Dr. Seiji Steimetz, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) economics department chair, last year about an economic-profile and impact report on the Latino population in Long Beach, his initial reaction was to help her search for one on Google.

“I thought, ‘Surely this already exists,’ because Long Beach is approaching half Latino,” Steimetz said. “So, of course, somebody has done that. Apparently, they hadn’t.”

Upon this discovery, CSULB, city, state and Centro CHA officials put their resources together to create the Latino Economic Profile and Impact Report– the first of its kind.
City officials called for the report to be made in order for them to use the data to create policies and legislation that would better suit the population.

“You need this kind of study, in general, whenever you’re going to identify policy areas and policy priorities for any subpopulation of interest,” Steimetz said. “The particular reason for this report is that it has not been done. Given that it was desperately needed, it was never done– which I found puzzling, considering that 44.5 percent of Long Beach is Hispanic/Latino.”

Courtesy CSULB Economics Department
Dr. Seiji Steimetz

Steimetz told the Signal Tribune during a phone interview Dec. 11 that the data they have found so far could be considered contrary to certain stereotypes about Latinos.
The report has detailed information pulled from the Census’s Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) sets– which are a collection of “counties or tracts within counties with more than 100,000 people based on the decennial census population counts,” according to census.gov.
Some of the findings in the report that Steimetz believed to be the most eye-opening include the following:

• The population of foreign-born (born outside of the U.S.) Latino children have declined by 57.4 percent over the last decade– 3 percent of Long Beach Latinos who are under 18 are foreign-born.

• The amount of Long Beach Latinos who participate in the region’s labor force is 105,000, which represents 42 percent of Long Beach’s working population– consisting of those who are 16 and older.

• Each year, Long Beach Latinos generate $33 billion in economic activity, supporting nearly 80,000 additional jobs in the region.

The extensive report made its first public appearance in November during a Long Beach Latino Economic Summit event. In a keynote speech during the summit, Mayor Robert Garcia said the narrative of immigration within the Latino population is important but not the only one. He also said that if Latinos fail, then Long Beach fails.

The report is constantly being tweaked and adjusted using the data CSULB economics professor Dr. Lisa Grobar and CSULB senior-economics undergrad Megan Anaya have worked on collecting.

Steimetz said the team behind the report does not intend to simply publish a document and move on. The idea behind the report is to constantly “get the numbers in front of major stakeholders.”

“We met many times with an advisory board– a group of various representatives from the city council, [the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors 4th District] Janice Hahn’s office, the mayor’s office– all coming in to tell us their feedback,” Steimetz said.

Anaya spoke with the Signal Tribune on Dec. 7 about her involvement in the report. She said she approached Steimetz in April with the intent to help organize the study.

“After a few conversations with him, and him showing me a few data sets, he gauged my interest in regard to what I wanted to research,” Anaya said. “He put me in contact with Jessica Quintana. After an interview with her, she decided that she did want to green-light me to be the economic-research intern for this project.”

Courtesy CSULB Economics Department
According to the Latino economic-impact report, Long Beach Latinos generate $33 billion yearly and support close to 80,000 additional jobs in the region.

Anaya began the laborious process of data collecting for the Latino Economic Profile and Impact Report in May. She wanted to hone her economic skills while she helped on the project with the goal to eventually receive a master’s degree in the field.

Anaya became familiar with PUMS sets while she helped develop the report. She would collect raw data based off of questionnaires found in the PUMS sets, such as the number of disabilities reported per household, income reports and school enrollment.

“What’s driven me to work even harder on this project is knowing that I’m an undergraduate,” she said. “This is an amazing opportunity, to be a part of this. It’s given me the ignition to put my best work into the project.”

While Anaya perfected her economic forecasting and modeling skills while working on the report, Steimetz told the Signal Tribune that the data results were what drew him closer to the project.

“There’s this narrative that is very different from the data,” Steimetz said. “Some of the narrative is very ugly and misleading, and this is a way where you can at least frame the discussion in facts. Of all the Latinos who live in Long Beach, who were born in another country, they support an additional 40,000 jobs in the region. Our economic-impact [report] is showing that there may be this narrative that Latino immigrants take U.S. jobs; the reality is that they create U.S. jobs.”

A grant from the California Department of Social Services funded the work that went into creating the report.

Steimetz said that the team looks ahead to sponsors that could help fund for the longevity of the report. He also mentioned that a website will soon be created to display the data. As of press time, there is not a public website that hosts the report’s findings.