Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Latino Middle Class

Back in December I read an article on about the Latino middle class.  In the article entitled "L.A. Needs a Healthy Latino Middle Class," Hector Tobar highlights three recent reseach studies from USC, UCLA and the Pew Research Center.  All three focused on Latinos and all three were released in either November or December 2009 (odd, no?).

 The three studies are contained below:
According to Mr. Tobar, Latinos make up a plurality of both Los Angeles County and Greater Los Angeles.  "With this year's census likely to show a Latino majority in both the city and county of Los Angeles, it's obvious that our collective future is linked to the social health of that group of people."

Mr. Tobar highlights the December 2009 report of Dr. Jody Agius Vallejo.  The USC researcher looked at the "pathways to success" that allow even people of humble immigrant origins to reach middle-class status. Her work rebuts the widespread perception that Mexican immigrants and their offspring are following a trajectory of downward mobility into a permanent underclass.

Dr. Vallejo's study focused on individuals that possessed at least three of these four characteristics:
  1. College educations,
  2. Higher than average income,
  3. White-collar jobs, and
  4. Home ownership.
According to Dr. Vallejo, each person who achieves social mobility improves the overall well-being of the community. Social climbers show others behind them the way forward.  It is these individuals upon which the future of Los Angeles hinges.

According to Dr. Dowell Myers, a healthy middle class with Latin American roots is critical to the entire country's future too. This is the thesis of Dr. Myers book, "Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America."

As I read Mr. Tobar's article it reminded me that Pan American Bank is not just a community bank.  It is also a tool for the families of the communities we serve to use to bootstrap themselves into the middle class.  Apart from viewing our business as a collection of assets, liabilities and equity, we need to view it as a platform from which transformation can occur. 

When I was in school one of the first lessons I was taught was the importance of the mission statement.  Pan American Bank's mission is to transform and empower Latino communities through banking relationships built on trust, service, respect, communication, and guidance. This means we have a direct responsibility to operate our business in a manner that is consistent with that mission.  There is much that we as a community bank and community leader can do to contribute to the improvement of our communities.  I am happy to say that every day we are closer to fulfilling our mission.

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