For many Americans, the current political climate is distressing, but not disruptive to their day to day lives. But for the 55 million Hispanics that currently call the United States, home, that isn’t the case. Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign with an attack on Hispanic immigrants. Now that he’s in office, the conversation on immigration has erupted into a maelstrom of ignorance and intolerance. At ThinkNow, we were curious as to how President Trump’s leadership and the resulting chain of events, thus far, has affected U.S. Hispanic outlooks towards the U.S. economy and country.
Unlike our recently released ThinkNow Pulse™ Consumer Sentiment Report, a quantitative study that asked Hispanics and other ethnic groups how they felt about the economy moving into 2017, we wanted to listen in on the conversations and ideologies driving those numbers.
So as a follow-up to that study, we decided to conduct an online focus group to gain a better understanding of why Hispanics were optimistic about the economy but also gauge their feelings about being Hispanic in the U.S. during this time.
Hispanic Consumers are still enamored with the American Dream
One of the most compelling findings from the qualitative research is that of Hispanics’ love for this country. The perception of the United States promises a land of possibility, hope, and progress – the Land of Opportunity. The reasons U.S. Hispanics or their parents emigrated to this country are still valid.
This does not mean, however, that the current political climate hasn’t effected Hispanic attitudes toward the U.S. Recent executive orders targeting immigrants are causing anxiety. Most Hispanics in the U.S. were either born here or have permanent legal residency, but many have friends and family members who could face deportation. This threat, as well as the suspicion with which they perceive the Administration views Hispanics, further increases this anxiety.
Unity is a priority among cultural values
Unity is a highly regarded Hispanic cultural value. The needs of the community are often placed before the needs of the individual in Hispanic culture. Seeing fractured U.S. attitudes towards immigrants is distressing for Hispanics since they share a cultural tendency to accommodate differences and to shy away from controversy.
It remains to be seen if the pressure the U.S. Hispanic community is feeling under this Administration will be significant enough to cause them to respond politically since “keeping their head down” and not causing trouble has been their predominant attitude politically until now, as seen in recent protests.
Hispanic Consumers are still optimistic
Despite the anti-immigrant rhetoric, overall, Hispanics still feel optimistic towards the U.S. economy in 2017. Donald Trump the “businessman” is viewed favorably. His perceived business acumen gives Hispanics hope for the U.S. economy and their personal financial outlook. A strong economy that produces good jobs and wages would be welcome by all Americans.
But Hispanics are particularly sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy since they often have fewer economic resources to fall back on to cushion the blow of economic downturns. And as the economy continues to improve, the cost of housing and other necessities is increasing with it, resulting in concerns about cost of living vs. wages.
As 2017 unspools, Hispanics will watch closely to see if wages increase enough to offset price increases. The result will help measure whether their optimism for the year persists.
Download the report here for additional insights: