updated 9/1/2006 12:22:11 PM ET 2006-09-01T16:22:11

Hispanics will outpace blacks as the most powerful minority consumers in the country next year, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

Major Market Indices

Still, the vast majority of states will continue to see blacks as their strongest minority market because the nation's Hispanic population is concentrated in a handful of areas, study author Jeffrey Humphreys said.

Hispanics are expected to have buying power of $863.1 billion, compared with black buying power of $847 billion in 2007. Hispanics — the nation's largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority — will comprise about 8.5 percent of the nation's total consumer market next year.

"Hispanic buying power is a good leading indicator of political power," said Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the university. "Now that Hispanics have the strongest buying power, that suggests Hispanic political clout will be on the upswing as well."

The annual study by the school's Terry College of Business and the Selig Center bases buying power on a person's disposable income, which is the amount of after-tax income he or she has available for spending on goods and services.

Since 1990, Hispanics' economic power has grown from $212 billion to $798 billion this year, purchasing items such as phone services, major appliances, vehicles, children's clothing and footwear.

In the same timeframe, blacks' buying power has risen from $318 billion in 1990 to $799 billion this year. Blacks tend to spend more money on utilities, apparel, footwear, housing and groceries.

Georgia is set to become the 10th largest Hispanic market this year, compared with a 1990 rank of 19th. But the black consumer market in Georgia is still about $54 billion bigger than the Hispanic market.

Rosa Rosales, president of the national League of United Latin American Citizens, said the study will get the attention of companies that until this point have ignored the Hispanic consumer.

According to the 2005 American Community Survey, Hispanics make up about 14.5 percent of the country's population, compared with 12.8 percent for blacks.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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