While the Great Recession officially ended sometime in the middle of 2009, the downturn has left the U.S. economy in a beleaguered state, with fewer people employed, the U.S. consumer-driven economy hitting reverse, and private and public debt soaring.
Many Hispanic-owned companies in the United States have experienced more than their fair share of the many challenges. For them, 2009 was a historic year, and not in a good way.
"It was brutal, no question about it," Tony Trujillo, CEO of Holman's Inc., a New Mexico-based retailer selling precision surveying and computer products, told Hispanic Business magazine. "I've been through at least four of these economic downturns in my four decades in the business, and this is the worst."
The combined revenue for the nation's 500 leading Hispanic-owned firms plummeted in 2009 by an astonishing 16.6 percent, to $30.1 billion -- the largest one-year drop in the 28-year history of the list, as indicated by the annual survey by HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business magazine.
The extensive drop in 2009 is the second consecutive tough year for the 500 directory. In 2008, for the first time in a decade, not every company on the index posted revenues of at least $5 million: seven companies fell short of the mark. In 2009, that number grew to 33, according to HispanTelligence.
To make do with less, companies have made teeth-grinding reductions in headcount.
The number of employees working for HB 500 firms fell in 2009 by 8.7 percent, to 120,363, from 131,894 in 2008.In 2006, the figure stood at 147,465 people.
This dramatic evaporation of jobs is a reflection of the nation's overall unemployment rate, which rose from 7.6 percent in January of 2009 to 10 percent by year's end. Among Hispanics, the jobless rate had reached 12.9 percent.
Meanwhile, a similar fate befell the Fortune 500, whose sales from the year before dropped by 8.7 percent, to $9.8 trillion, and whose employee base shrank by 3.2 percent, or by 821,000 jobs -- the steepest loss in the history of the list.
Still, Fortune 500 profits last year skyrocketed by 335 percent -- the second biggest jump in the 56-year history of the list -- mostly due to the large-scale layoffs. .
Interestingly, profits on the HispanicBusiness 500 remains mostly unchanged from last year, though they were slightly down. In this year's survey, 5.6 percent of the companies surveyed reported profits of at least 16 percent, down from 7.6 percent last year. Another 6 percent reported a loss, up from 4.4 percent last year. But in both years, roughly a third of the companies declined to respond to that portion of the survey.
For many Hispanic-owned companies in the United States, 2009 was a test of survival, and not all of them passed.
Among the casualties of 2009 were formerly strong firms like California-based Gonzales Automotive, No. 61 on last year's list with 150 employees. Also out of business is Rody Truck Center, a Miami used truck and equipment dealership, which ranked 318 on the list and employed 20 people.
The year was also historic for the reshuffling in the rankings of the HispanicBusiness 500.
For the first time in memory, a majority of the top-10 companies -- six, to be exact -- are new to top of the list rankings.
Gone from the top-10 club are former mainstays such as the Related Group of Florida, a real-estate developer, and Ancira Enterprises, a San Antonio automotive sales and services company.
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