ATLANTA (AP) - The buying power of U.S. Hispanic consumers is growing at three times the rate of inflation and is slowly gaining on black purchasing power, a University of Georgia study shows.
Hispanic purchasing power - the total personal income available after taxes for spending on goods and services - will be $348 billion this year, compared with $325 billion last year, according to figures compiled by the school's Selig Center for Economic Growth.
It is up 65 percent since 1990, when it totaled $211 billion. During the same period, inflation was 23 percent during the same period, overall U.S. buying power grew 41 percent and black buying power grew 54 percent.
"The most surprising thing is the phenomenal rate of growth," center Director Jeff Humphreys said Wednesday. "It's growing at three times the rate of inflation."
Americans claiming Hispanic ancestry make up about 11 percent of the population - 28.6 million people - and have 6.1 percent of the $5.7 trillion in total buying power, the study said.
That is up from 5.2 percent in 1990. Black buying power grew from 7.5 percent of the total in 1990 to 8 percent - $469 billion - this year.
"The black market is still much larger, but Hispanic clout is increasing. We have really two markets that are similar and growing much more rapidly than the overall market," said Humphreys, who published a study of black buying power in May.
"The great thing about the study is that it shows the Hispanic market is here and unless corporate America begins to actively cater to the market ... they're going to miss the market," said Jose Nino, president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
The findings are in line with studies by the Hispanic chamber, Nino said.
The study "represents a real opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their market in a cost-effective way," Humphreys said, adding that Hispanics may now see more advertising and products aimed at them.
Hispanic buying power is concentrated in just a few states, with more than two-thirds of it in California ($112 billion), Texas ($56 billion), New York ($35 billion) and Florida ($33 billion), the study found.
The states with the fastest growth in Hispanic buying power are Nevada, Tennessee, Iowa, Georgia, Utah, Oregon, Nebraska, Arkansas, Montana and Idaho.
Georgia showed a 100.3 percent increase between 1990 and 1997.
It's "easy to grow a relatively small market, making Georgia a more attractive place for immigrants to move in," Humphreys said. "Just the strength in the Georgia economy is luring not just Hispanics but everyone because we have an abundance of good jobs."
States with the fastest growth rate of Hispanic buying power, 1990-97, with total for 1997 in parentheses:
1. Nevada, 130.2 percent ($3.17 billion)
2. Tennessee, 104.7 percent ($807 million)
3. Iowa, 104.6 percent ($629 million)
4. Georgia, 100.3 percent ($2.67 billion)
5. Utah, 100 percent ($1.39 billion)
6. Oregon, 99.1 percent ($1.74 billion)
7. Nebraska, 98.5 percent ($662 million)
7. Arkansas, 98.5 percent ($326 million)
9. Montana, 98.3 percent ($167 million)
10. Idaho, 98 percent ($806 million)
States with the largest Hispanic consumer markets for 1997:
1. California, $112.2 billion
2. Texas, $55.9 billion
3. New York $34.9 billion
4. Florida, $33.1 billion
5. Illinois, $14.7 billion
6. New Jersey, $14.4 billion
7. Arizona, $10 billion
8. New Mexico, $8.1 billion
9. Colorado, $6.4 billion
10. Massachusetts, $4.3 billion
Source: University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth