05/08/07 — Hispanics key to future, experts say

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Hispanics key to future, experts say

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 8, 2007 1:55 PM

Experts say it won't be long before Hispanic caretakers will be the ones seeing to the needs of elderly Baby Boomers, and "being immigrant-friendly is in our own enlightened self-interest."

Demographics expert Dr. Jim Johnson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan Flagler School of Business and Axel Lluch from the governor's Hispanic/Latino Affairs office spoke at a symposium Monday sponsored by the Wayne County Latino Council.

Johnson said a study found in the births that occurred between 1990 and 2003, Hispanic births increased by 817 percent, while the number of white births increased by 1.4 percent.

The men described how unprecedented growth from immigration, both legal and illegal, have already affected North Carolina -- especially Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties.

Lluch said the U.S. State Department has a backlog of people wanting to come to the country legally.

"There are avenues, but they are slow and cumbersome," he said. " The system is broken down. Too many people want to come here. It's almost unavailable to the average person who wants to do the right thing and come here legally."

North Carolina's booming economy and low unemployment rate made the state a magnet, and while traditionally the immigration flowed to metropolitan areas, Duplin and Sampson became major rural magnets because of major employers.

The median age of Hispanics in the U.S. is 25. The median age of native born citizens is 35.

"But you cost a lot more than they do, because you're older," Johnson said. We're going to see one heck of an exodus from the labor market. When you get old, who's going to take care of you? And you can't go home and fix this problem. You're too old."