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Under Economic Pressure, Hispanics 45+ Look to Work, Families

New AARP Survey Shows Some Middle-Aged and Older Hispanics Making Dire Decisions for Long Term

While many middle-aged and older Hispanics are trying to work their way through the recent economic slump, many are also being forced to make difficult decisions with dire long-term consequences, according to a new survey by AARP.

The survey, which is part of AARP’s continued look at how Americans ages 45 and older are faring through economic difficulties, found that 86% of Hispanics 45+ say the economy is in fairly bad or very bad condition, and 82% say it is getting worse.

"The current economic downturn is forcing many in the Hispanic community to make very difficult choices between their immediate needs and long-term financial security," said AARP Board Member Jacob Lozada.

Hispanics 45+ Under Acute Pressure

Compared to all Americans 45+, middle-aged and older Hispanics report a relatively greater impact of recent economic pressure.

While two-thirds of all Americans 45+ are having a harder time paying for food, gas and medicine, four in five Hispanics (80%) are struggling to afford these daily necessities.  Middle aged and older Hispanics are more likely than the general 45+ population to have difficulty paying their mortgage or rent (41% - 26%), as well as pay for educational expenses (32%-19%).

The impact of high foreclosure rates is causing particular stress for Hispanics 45+, with more than four in ten (41%) concerned about losing their home, and more than three-quarters (77%) concerned about the safety of neighborhoods with many foreclosed homes.

Difficult Decisions with Long-Term Impact

Economic pressures are forcing many middle-aged and older Hispanics to make difficult choices that could have dire long-term consequences.

One-third (33%) stopped putting money into a 401(k), IRA or other retirement account, and more than one-quarter (26%) are prematurely raiding these nest egg accounts.

More than three in ten (31%) have postponed paying some bills, and more than one out of every five (22%) middle-aged and older Hispanics are cutting back on their medications.

"We are going to feel the effects of this economic crisis for many years to come," added Lozada.  "Raiding your nest egg has a compounding effect because that money is not allowed to grow at a time when you have fewer working years to make up the losses.  Even worse, skimping on your health care can compromise your health and lead to higher health care costs as you get older."

Many Streamlining Expenses, Working More

The vast majority of Hispanics 45+ are taking more common sense approaches to managing through the economy.  Many are spending less on entertainment and eating out (71%), and more than six in ten (62%) are postponing travel plans and major purchases.

Many middle-aged and older Hispanics are responding to the economy by staying on the job longer, both in the short- and long-terms.  More than a quarter (26%) say the economic slump has forced them to postpone retirement plans, and almost as many (23%) have increased the number of hours they work in the meantime.

In the face of these hard times, many Hispanic families and their communities are pulling together for support.  In the last year, 44% of respondents helped a child pay bills or expenses and almost one-fifth (18%) did the same for their parents.  More than one in ten (14%) let a child move in for financial reasons and 5% did the same for their parents.  One out of every ten (10%) had to seek help from loved ones, churches or local charities.

"Hispanic families are showing impressive resilience and generosity to help others in need," said Lozada.

AARP commissioned the survey, titled "The Economic Slowdown’s Impact on Middle-Aged and Older Hispanics."  The national telephone survey of 400 people ages 45 and older, was conducted April 12 – 23, 2008 by Woelfel Research, Inc.

For more information or to view the complete survey, please visit

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