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Buying power of Hispanics in Georgia


The buying power of Hispanics in Georgia is increasing as the group's income is growing faster than the state average, according to University's Selig Center for Economic Growth economists.

The state's 700,000 Hispanics spend more on housing, groceries, gas, vehicles and other items than other consumers. However, they spend less on health care and personal insurance.

"In Georgia, the increase in buying power means more market niches for Hispanics, which are appealing to companies," said Jeff Humphreys, director of the University's Selig Center for Economic Growth.

In Athens, the growth in income can be seen in the increase of new accounts at El Banco de la Oportunidad, a division of First American Bank and Trust. With a steady increase in new accounts, the bank has approximately $1.9 million in 1,000 interest and non-interest bearing accounts, said bank manager Fausto D. Sarmiento.

Sarmiento said Hispanics in Athens also are starting new businesses, reflecting a national trend. Customers with commercial accounts are in construction, poultry, real estate, financial and food industries. Sarmiento also said organizations such as El Banco de la Oportunidad are helping Hispanics become acculturated within the U.S. financial system.

"Through the services we provide, the Hispanic community in Athens will be able to utilize the different banking resources in order to fully benefit from their own increased purchasing power," he said.

The growth in Hispanic buying power has been studied by the Selig Center for several years. The center's research includes Hispanics counted by the census bureau and income data based on tax returns. At $13.6 billion for 2007, Georgia is the 10th largest Hispanic market in the U.S., Humphreys said.

Georgia's Hispanic population is growing faster than other states due to what Humphreys calls "a chain migration of family members."

"Hispanic immigrants usually stop at the border states first, but when they hear about Georgia's good reputation for jobs, they make it their second or third stop," he said.

Georgia's total buying power increased from $101 billion in 1990 to $278 billion in 2007, and Hispanic buying power in Georgia increased from $1.3 billion in 1990 to $13.6 billion in 2007.

Hispanics make up 4.9 percent of the state market compared to 1.3 percent in 1990, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

"This implies that in Georgia, the income gap is getting narrower," said Jason C. Rudbeck, professor of economics. "In other words, once we adjust for taxes, the income left for Hispanics to spend on goods and services has grown more quickly than for non-Hispanics."

The Selig Center limits its projections to five years, and unless immigration laws change, Hispanic buying power should continue upward, Humphreys said.


Patricia Daumas is a bilingual Senior level Creative Director and Copywriter, specializing in the US-Hispanic markets.

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