The stereotype of Latinos that abounds in Hollywood movies portrays the men of this community as poor immigrants who work in the fields and construction (if they are not gang members or drug dealers), and women as cleaners.
However, most of the 60 million Latinos living in the United States have a job related to education, health and social services, according to the Pew Research Center.
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It is true that many have not finished high school and that their salaries – on average – are low. But with the different migratory waves of the last decades and the increase of Latinos born in the US, their employment situation has been changing.
For example, in the course of a decade Latinos who work in business, finance or who are bosses increased from 6.7% to 8%, while the businesses of entrepreneurs in this community also grew.
Latinos generate US $ 2.3 billion a year, according to calculations by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington D.C.
"If we were a country, we would be the eighth largest economy in the world," Ramiro Cavazos, president and chief executive of the organization, tells BBC Mundo.
An economic engine
Currently, one in five Americans is of Latin origin, according to the United States Census Bureau. In 2060, they are expected to be one in four, reaching a total of 119 million people.
With that in mind, it is difficult to argue that this community plays a key role in the economy of the world's first power.
And although the low level of education on the part of Latinos is an impediment for them to access better jobs, experts project that in the coming decades the situation will improve.
"The type of work that Latinos do has changed in recent years," Mark Lopez, director of global migration and demography research at the Pew Research Center, tells BBC Mundo.
"Fewer Latinos work in the construction sector compared to previous years and more Latinos work in business or employee supervision," López explains.
By productive sectors, where Latinos work most – after jobs in education, health and social services – it is in the category that brings together arts, entertainment, recreation, lodging and food services.
Third is retail.
Another way to analyze what Latinos work in is to look for the specific occupations they perform, explains Mark López.
In this case, the ranking is led by administrative and office support jobs, followed by sales and construction, a sector with jobs that require different degrees of specialization, ranging from the most basic, to the handling of machinery or of electrical, water or heating systems, as well as supervisors, construction managers or engineers.
The sector where Latin American jobs have increased the most is food preparation and service.
How much money do they earn?
The average annual income of Latinos who work full time is US $ 30,000.
Latinos are the ones with the lowest salaries, compared to those of the white, black and Asian population.
In fact, Asians are the ones with the highest level of income (with an average of US $ 54,000 a year), followed by white employees and black workers.
If we look at the evolution of the average salary of a full-time Latino worker since 1990, the picture is not very encouraging: it remains almost the same, according to the Pew Research Center.
However, it has grown in the case of part-time workers. And on the other hand, the money generated by a family – measured as the total income of the group – has also increased.
"A false perception"
There are 4.3 million businesses in the country whose owners are Latino. These generate more than US $ 700,000 million, according to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
However, the lack of access to bank loans remains one of the biggest challenges for Latino entrepreneurs, says Ramiro Cavazos.
There are 4.3 million businesses in the country whose owners are Latino. (Photo: Getty Images)
But as more Latinos are entering the workforce, they are younger and have more studies than in the past, Cavazos believes that the economic power of the community will continue to grow in the coming years.
In fact, Mark González, of the Pew Research Center, says that in the last decade Latino education has begun to improve and it is increasingly common to "see Latinos in jobs that require a bachelor's degree."
Gonzalo Huertas and Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, researchers at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), published an analysis this year about Latinos who do business in the United States.
"Latinos have the highest level of entrepreneurial capacity compared to other groups in the United States," Gonzalo Huertas tells BBC Mundo.
"This goes against the false perception that Latinos are a low quality workforce."
The expert agrees that the contribution of the Latino community to the growth of the US economy will increase in the coming years, as the number of people of working age will grow, a phenomenon known as demographic bonus.
But what experts also agree is that there is an educational lag. "Latinos are still well below the rest of the groups," says Huertas.
Despite that problem, he adds, "Latinos are gaining ground and their work is becoming more productive."