Mar 21, 2024 - News

Report: Iowa's future relies on Latino youth

Denison cheerleaders hang out by the side of the high school gym

The majority of the Denison High School cheerleading squad is Latino. The school is 60% Latino and the town itself is 50% Latino. Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Iowa's young Latinos are the state's fastest-growing demographic and could help support our aging state, according to a report by Iowa Latinx Project.

Why it matters: The obstacles young Latinos face today could hinder their potential success if they're not addressed.

By the numbers: Iowa Latinos' median age is 24. The white population is 42, according to the report.

  • 42% of Iowa's Latinos were born here.
  • There are nearly 5,000 Latino-owned businesses in the state, with the majority in construction.

Zoom in: While the majority of Latino kids live in two-parent households where at least one parent works, they were likely earning less in comparison to neighboring white families and dealt with the subsequent social and economic barriers.

Yes, but: Iowa Latinos fared better in smaller towns with more established communities that provide bilingual resources.

  • Places like Marshalltown and West Liberty could set an example for the rest of the state, says Dawn Martinez Oropeza, executive director of Al Éxito, which advocates for Latino youth.

What they're saying: Racial disparities in household incomes, home ownership and high school graduation rates were nearly non-existent in Marshall County until the pandemic, according to new numbers from Iowa Latinx Project.

  • Integration was the key. There was Latino representation on elected boards and Spanish-speaking realtors and bankers helping with home purchases and loans.

What's next: Iowa Latinx Project is seeking a consulting firm to help the group determine actionable steps to take with their data.

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