LatinaLista -- Every bad joke you've ever heard about Latinos being in the lawn care and landscaping business is about to multiply courtesy of a report released today by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce titled "The Economic Impact of the Landscaping and Lawn Care Services Industry on U.S. Latinos."
According to the report's authors, the lawncare and landscaping industry is the perfect entry into business for entrepreneurial Latinos. Why? Because it takes very little money to start the business but a whole lot of sweat capital, which we know is an abundant asset among most hard-working Latinos.
Some of the findings of the report are:
For Latinos, the landscape and lawn care industry is an important source of employment. The share of Latino employment in the industry is 2.6 times higher than the national average. Specifically, the data shows that while Latinos represent 13.4 percent of all U.S. workers, they represent 35.2 percent of all workers in landscape and lawn care services industry.
The landscaping and lawn care industry provides disproportionately more income to Latino households than the overall economy provides to Latinos. It also provides disproportionately more income to Latinos than it does to other population groups participating in the landscape and lawn care industry.
The proportion of businesses owned by Latinos in the industry is almost double the national average for all industries with Latinos accounting for over 16 percent of the business owners in the industry (versus 8.6 percent of the businesses nationwide).
These findings are not surprising. After all, if there's one job most Americans don't want to do is take care of their own yards -- as is evident by the money Latinos in this industry are raking in.
Another reason why the findings aren't surprising is because the average yard worker doesn't need an education. It doesn't take a high school diploma to push a lawn mower or even a Bachelor's degree to dig up a bush and replant it, or a Master's degree to lay out a flower bed.
And in all honesty, working in this industry never used to require proof of legal citizenship either, until E-Verify went into effect.
Most landscapers, if they don't have a formal degree in horticulture, have enough of a homegrown education that they've been able to learn on the job all they need to know to keep someone's yard from turning brown, being invaded with weeds or which flowers bloom during which time of the year.
Yet, after reading this report, I can't help but wonder just how much longer will the lawn care and landscaping industry provide cushion support to all these Latinos who depend on it for their livelihood.
After all, regions of the country are changing due to climate conditions. For example, in Texas, lakes used as water sources are drying up and cities and towns are now rationing water for outside usage. Some allow watering of lawns every other week and some only once a month.
Tomorrow's, and I literally mean tomorrow, landscape and lawncare workers will need to know how to take of yards with fewer natural resources on tap.
An industry, once thought safe and profitable for workers with limited education, may find itself going the way of the manufacturing sector where workers are being retrained to meet a new reality.
It's a harsh wake-up call but one that underscores the need for people, especially Latinos, to understand that it's not just about the sweat of your brow that will earn a paycheck in the future but education and (re)training that will determine a person's success in a workforce in a changing world.