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Latinos' Crucial Contributions to Social Security

The growing Hispanic population will provide increasing contributions to Social Security coffers.

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— Les and Dave Jacobs/cultura/Corbis

En español | A monthly Social Security check is all the money many Hispanic retirees rely on. They are less likely than other Americans to have other forms of retirement income, such as pensions or special retirement savings accounts like 401(k) plans. Yet the growing Hispanic population provides increasing contributions to Social Security coffers. That's why the fate of the program, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is of special importance to Hispanics.

The Latino community is younger than the general U.S. population because it includes many newly arrived immigrants, who tend to be young. Hispanics also have a higher birth rate than that of the general population. As a result, the percentage of Hispanics in the workforce will increase as the rest of the U.S. population ages: a projected increase of 30 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 5 percent for the non-Hispanic workforce.

That means that as the nation's 80 million aging baby boomers start relying on Social Security, Hispanics' contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund are rising. And the trend is expected to continue. Latino participation in the workforce is projected to more than double by 2050, increasing to about 46 million, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report, while the non-Hispanic white labor force is projected to fall to 94 million in 2050, down from 100 million in 2005.

"The Social Security system should be glad Latinos are going to be a growing segment of the workforce," says Fernando Torres-Gil, director of UCLA's Center for Policy Research on Aging, since Latinos are putting in much more than they're taking out and will continue to do so for years.
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