Eighteen years is a classic indicator of validity in America. It's a rite of passage into adulthood, marking a new level of freedom and influence in our society.
So when one million Hispanics are projected to turn 18 in this year, that's a critical mass - at a critical age - that should not be overlooked. Their influence will transcend all aspects of American life, across culture, business and politics.
Hispanic Millennials are natural trendsetters and early adopters across American culture. From Jennifer Lopez and Sofia Vergera, to Pit Bull and Selena Gomez, Hispanic celebrities are mainstream American icons that transcend race to set the tone for our cultural preferences. In the case of Hispanic Millennials, this celebrity heavily impacts their personal preferences, as they over-index for direct contact with authors, artists and brands through social media.
Hispanics also are shown to be early adopters of technology, as they outpace the national average in smartphone usage and streaming video. They're the first generation to grow up entirely in the age of the internet - and while all Millennials are using their increased connectivity for greater influence, Hispanic Millennials are doing so at a rate that outpaces their peers. This higher level of connectivity and focus on celebrity influence often puts Hispanic cultural trends ahead of the national curve.
Young Hispanics are enrolling in school at a higher rate than other ethnicities, leading to an anticipated influx of Hispanics in traditionally "white collar" jobs. Starting last year, racial and ethnic minorities now make up the majority of enrollees in public schools. In 2013, a higher percentage of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college than non-Hispanic whites.
Hispanics also are more likely than other ethnicities to start and grow their own businesses. Last year, we projected that the total number of Hispanic-owned businesses to reach 3.22 million in 2014, an increase of 43 percent since 2007. This total is more than twice the rate of all U.S. businesses, which increased 18 percent during the same period. Hispanics have shown that they're willing to work to make their own opportunities, a trait that aligns well with business innovation. This is a population that's educated and active - the future impact will be felt in the business community, as our future business leaders.
One million Hispanics turning 18 in 2015 automatically means a potential one million new voters - nearly one quarter of the entire new voting pool of young adults this year. And while Hispanics have historically under-participated at the voting booth, the total number of eligible voters has doubled in the past 15 years. Highly connected and influential Millennials are also likely to increase their voter participation over time. This number will continue to grow exponentially, in states that you might not expect, such as Colorado, Kansas and North Carolina. The growth cannot only be attributed to population - higher education rates and a greater cultural affiliation with America means that politicians across the country should think carefully before they under-estimate the Hispanic vote.
The country's Hispanic future is rapidly coming of age. One million new adult Hispanics in 2015 is just the latest milestone that shows us every day the growing power of their influence. Smart business and politicians will embrace this change, if they wish to seek their own growth and influence.
For more information around understanding the impact of Hispanic Millennials, attend the 11th Annual New Mainstream Business Summit, at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami. Register and RSVP at the link here.