News Column

Pew: U.S. Hispanics Among Most Affected by Mortgage Crisis

Jan. 8, 2009

Richard Kaplan--HispanicBusiness.com

Pew Hispanic, hispanic research, mortgage crisis, subprime loans

The deepening recession continues to affect the American consumer and has had a particularly harsh impact upon U.S. Hispanics. A host of new statistics reveal missed mortgage payments, reduced remittances to relatives abroad, and curtailed holiday spending, according to just-released research by the Pew Hispanic Center.

In a new national survey of 1,540 Latino adults, The Pew Center discovered that almost one-in-ten Hispanic homeowners surveyed have skipped a mortgage payment or were not able to make the full payment in the last year. In addition, more than one-third of Hispanic homeowners (36%) say they have fears their homes may face foreclosure. Among immigrant Latinos, more than half (53%) expressed such worries. In 2008, 3 percent actually received a foreclosure notice from their bank.

Reinforcing the conclusions of previous studies, the Pew survey also found that in the last year Hispanic immigrant have been remitting significantly less money to relatives and others in their countries of origin. More than two-thirds (71%) said they had sent smaller sums in 2008 than the previous year.

Like consumers across the country, U.S. Hispanics curtailed their purchases in the holiday season. In addition, Hispanics adjusted their expenditures in a myriad of ways to reflect their current economic concerns. The majority (71%) reported they were eating out less. In addition, 28 percent noted that they had given financial assistance to friends or family, while 17 percent said they had received a loan from relatives or friends.

Such recalibration of economic behavior reflects widespread worries held by American workers over the worsening employment situation. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the unemployment rate in November for Hispanics (8.6%) and in particular Hispanic youth 16-19 years old (27.0%) surpassed that of the general population (6.7%).

Such high unemployment rates show that Hispanic workers are at "particular risks during economic downturns, suffering negative effects sooner, more severely, and for longer duration" than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, said Texas Tech University economists Bradley Ewing, James Wetherbe and Angel Reyes.

Indeed, the Pew survey shows that Hispanics hold a more negative view of their own current personal financial situation than the general U.S. population. More than 76% of Hispanics and 84% of foreign-born Hispanics say their current personal finances are in either fair or poor shape, while 63% of the general U.S. population say the same.

The Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. The report in its entirety can be here (pdf format).


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