The ‘Latino Factor’ Will Save America’s Economy

Labor Day is a chance to take a break from our routines and honor the contributions of those who have built America. But as we relax and reflect, we also ought to recognize that our celebrations may be short-lived: The U.S. is running out of workers.

Baby boomers, who built the modern economic engine, are aging out of the American workforce. Ten thousand boomers reach retirement age each day. And while historically the country has relied on new births to replenish the labor force, the numbers today paint a bleak picture. For roughly the past three decades, the fertility rate has been below so-called replacement levels needed to maintain a steady population. Last year, it dropped to less than half of what it was during the baby boom.

While this is a decades-old problem, it requires an immediate solution. Those millions of retiring boomers aren’t disappearing. They spent their working years helping build the economy, and they’ll rely on Medicare and Social Security as they age out of it.

You don’t need a doctorate in economics to understand what these numbers are telling us: If Americans want the economy to keep growing—let alone remain the strongest in the world—we need to change the way we think about labor. We need to reset our expectations about who’s doing work, what kind of work they’re doing, and what skills they’ll need to succeed in a complex, dynamic economy.

The good news is that the solution is right in front of us. Unlike other countries facing a demographic crisis, America has an invaluable—and renewable—resource: a young, educated and entrepreneurial Latino population, 57 million strong as of 2016 and growing every day.

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