On September 11-14, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute hosted its annual Public Policy Conference in Washington, DC as part of their Hispanic Heritage Month event. The conference covered numerous relevant issues including the economy, jobs, entrepreneurship, immigration, and many others. At a time when the economy is still struggling to grow and create new jobs, economic issues have additional significance to the Hispanic and Latino communities.
One particular panel from the conference stood out to me, and it touched on the bread and butter of economic issues Latinos are currently facing today. The panel The Latino Community and the US Economy discussed a variety of issues, but also a very current topic concerning growth, job creation, and the economic importance of wireless, mobile broadband, and telecommunications.
A few points from the panel video:
- AT&T’s President for Arizona/New Mexico, Jerry Fuentes, an early speaker, communicated AT&T’s support of CHCI’s efforts, workplace diversity, and youth outreach for workforce development.
- Mr. Fuentes relayed AT&T’s support of President Obama’s universal broadband adoption goals and enhanced use of digital tools to remain globally competitive.
- The merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would deliver to consumers the most advanced digital mobile broadband network which would reach nearly all of Americans.
- Investment in broadband infrastructure translates into job creation to the tune of 300,000 to 700,000 new jobs. The merger itself would lead to over $8 billion in investments, and would also bring 5,000 jobs back to America from overseas.
- Education needs to be addressed in order to expand the number of highly sought after career fields like engineering, science, technology, and math (STEM).
- It is important to pursue corporate accountability to ensure that Hispanics are represented in the labor force, management, and procurement networks.
The economy and job creation are the most important issues facing policymakers in the US. The overall unemployment rate stands at over 9%, and with Hispanic unemployment at over 11%, there is a lot at stake for Latinos. Training and education which promotes technological literacy and skills can help Latinos break through into well-paying fields. And, greater workplace diversity, awareness, and accountability will help contribute as well.
Additionally, the potential job growth from broadband investments cannot be ignored. With between 300,000 and 700,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investments at stake, the economic potential of broadband is just beginning to be realized. As a nation, policymakers need to be aware that communications policy not only impacts broadband access and adoption, but also strong economic growth.