Coronavirus could ‘decimate’ Latino wealth, which was hammered by the Great Recession

"The crisis has either erased or is threatening to erase Latinos’ decade-long climb back to financial stability."

Octavia Nieto worked for over 10 years as a pastry chef at a bakery in Princeton, New Jersey. Now with the business closed indefinitely, she relies on a part-time job with a cleaning company.

“I’m making about $170 a week. What can I do with that? Not much. The other day I went to the store to get some essential things and it was like $30,” Nieto said, adding she only has enough savings for two months.

“When I think about what the future will bring us, I don’t even know what that looks like,” Nieto said.

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is dealing a hard-hitting blow to Latinos who barely recovered from the hammering they took in the Great Recession, raising the possibility of a setback from which many may not recover.

Millions of Latino families were just bouncing back from losing 66 percent of their household wealth, lagging far behind their white peers. During the Great Recession, Latino median household wealth plummeted from $18,359 in 2005 to $6,325 in 2009, the largest of any racial or ethnic group, according to Pew Research Center.

But the pandemic has left many out of work and pushed Latino business owners to the brink of shutting down. The crisis has either erased or is threatening to erase Latinos’ decade-long climb back to financial stability.

“Our communities will be decimated” economically by the coronavirus, said Nancy Santiago Negrón, a former Obama administration official and a founding team member of Ureeka, a platform that seeks to help entrepreneurs boost their small to medium businesses.

“After the smoke clears up, we will see a zap of our small businesses. We will see families without income. It would be entire communities having lost all their wealth and all their assets,” she said.


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