Miami-Dade Hispanic community more closely mirrors Western Hemisphere
Demographers find Cuban segment declines in Miami-Dade
Once mostly a Cuban and Caribbean enclave, Miami-Dade County now mirrors the entire hemisphere, demographic researchers say.
"By the benefit of geography and culture we're always in a win-win situation to receive waves of professional and rural workers from across Latin America," said Jerry Haar, senior research associate at the University of Miami North-South Center.
He and other nationally recognized researchers said Miami-Dade County's diversifying Hispanic population base is creating a more dynamic business climate and economy.
According to local demographers, while the county's Cuban population has continued to grow during the past 10 years, it now comprises significantly less of the county's total Hispanic base, giving way to a more diversified makeup of nationalities, ethnicities and cultures.
The 2000 US Census estimates Cubans comprise about 50% of the population, down from roughly 70% in 1990.
"Over the past decade we've watched Miami become a more multi-Hispanic community with large immigration waves from Brazil, South America and Central America," said Rick Tobin, president of Miami-based Strategy Research Corp., a market research firm focusing on Hispanics.
While the latest US Census data has not yet been broken down to reflect recent changes in immigration patterns and Hispanic populations, demographers at the State University of New York at Albany said the dilution of Cubans in Miami-Dade County is the direct result of more rapid immigration from Central America in the early '90s and South America during the past three years.
Immigration from Argentina, Colombia and Brazil rose commensurate with political and economic turmoil in those countries, said John Logan at State University of New York Albany's Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban & Regional Research.
The US Census 2000 estimates Cubans comprise 50.4% of the population, followed by Puerto Ricans and Mexicans at 6.2% and 2.9%, respectively.
Local and national demographers agree however that the "other-Hispanic" category, comprising 40.5% of the Hispanic population, conceals a vast untold story of South and Central American immigration observable at the street level.
A walk through South Beach or down Brickell Avenue reveals a noticeable presence of young Argentines working retail and service industries, for example.
Although Hispanic immigration waves have traditionally been driven by crises at home, Mr. Logan said the latest wave is unique in terms of demography.
"They're probably the most educated and business-oriented groups of people to settle in Miami since the original Cuban exiles of the early 1960s," he said.
Lacking conclusive empirical data, local experts point to deposit levels at foreign bank agencies and condo sales to Hispanic buyers as evidence that South America has not only been exporting high net worth private investors, but educated middle classes as well.
Whether that trend is new or not, it's good for South Florida, Mr. Tobin said.
"To a degree, this has always been true. Miami has benefited from a significantly different Hispanic in terms of education, mobility and economic resources than those that have settled other regions. But the growing diversity of that educated base puts the county in a very beautiful position not only to grow," he said, "but to maintain its status as the business capital of Latin America."