Latinos hit hardest by recession study says



Posted on July 27, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 27 at 7:37 PM

SEATTLE -- Many small business owners are on the verge of closing--hoping sales pick-up before it's too late.  Hispanics have seen their median wealth substantially decrease as jobs in construction, painting and the service industry have been lost.

Alma Jiminez restaurant is family owned and operated.  She spends every day at the restaurant waiting for business to pick back up, waiting for a change.
"Seven days until two in the morning to see if someone will show up," said Jiminez.
A recent census analysis says the Latino community has been the hardest hit during the recession.
The medium wealth in Hispanic households fell 66 percent from 2005 to 2009.
Plaza Bank focuses on Hispanic clients.
"We've had more defaults from the business side than the personal side," said Plaza Bank President Carlos Guangorena.
The worst hit are restaurants, like Alma's 
"[Restaurants] are the ones having a hard time," said Guangorena.
Even the best known establishments like the Triple X Rootbeer Drive-in have had to change the way they operate.
"We cut back the hours that have a second and we gave those hours to people that count on this job.
Some of owner Jose Enciso's staff have even moved in together to save money.
"They live in a little two bedroom apartment that has gone from two people to four, five, or maybe six people.
Jose says the ones that can't make it either move or leave the U.S. all together. 
Alma's hoping that doesn't happen to her or her family.
"I will just stay here until I can't...I don't know," said Jiminez.
Plaza Bank says while they have seen defaults on loans, something they've noticed is that the car is the last thing a person will give up.  
In fact, not one client has defaulted on their car loans.