Latinos struck hard by economy in 2009 but cautiously optimistic for 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA – New Hispanic consumer sentiment tracking service LATINOMICS, a research tool announced this week by Garcia Research and Santiago ROI, reveals that Latinos hit hard by the recession close 2009 with mixed perceptions about their well being and where the country is headed by generally support Obama.  (The initial wave, a national representative survey of roughly 600 interviews was conducted, 400 by phone and 200 online, in December 2009 with a margin of error of + or – 4%).

Half of Latinos say that their families are making less income than last year, one in three is making the same, and only 1 in 7 are making more. These tough economic times appear to be hitting the hardest on older consumers, the Spanish dominant, lower income groups and persons in the West and of Mexican origin.

Given the data above, it is not surprising that six in ten Latinos say that they will spend less on the Holidays this year compared to two in ten planning to spend about the same and only one in ten planning to spend more than last year. Those less than 30 years old are most likely to plan to spend more or the same while those over 40 years old are most likely to plan to spend less. Again, the West appears to be in a tighter situation than other US regions. Interestingly, even though the incomes of younger Latinos do not appear to have dropped as much as their older counterparts, they have still learned to economize, with about half saying they have economized somewhat in recent months.

“Hispanics have been hit hard by the Great Recession … ” says Carlos Garcia, President of Garcia Research. “The lowest income, Mexican-origin, mono-lingual Spanish segment are seeing the worst of it. Still, this community has strong family support systems to help them weather such situations. Perhaps due to that support structure, they are largely getting by and optimistic for the future.”

In terms of outlook, Latinos appear to be optimistic in general. Fully 6 in 10 are making do – 4 in 10 Latinos say things aren’t easy but they are managing to get by and about 1 in 10 say things are improving a little plus another 1 in 10 say things are going very well. Younger Latinos tend to be most positive while those over 40 years of age and those making less than $20K are most concerned over finances. Not surprisingly, this group of modest annual income is also the most likely group to say that they have seen more people leaving the US recently than people coming into the US.

Despite all this hardship, 6 in 10 approve the performance of President Obama – 3 strongly, 3 somewhat – compared to the national average of 5 in 10. Only 1 in 7 disapprove (the rest are not sure which may suggest a reluctance to offer an opinion). Among registered voters, 7 in 10 Democrats approve the performance of Democrats in the Congress and Senate versus only two in ten Independents and Republicans. Dissatisfaction is greater among registered Republicans and Independents, among which only 3 in 10 approve of Republicans in the Congress and Senate versus only 2 in 10 democrats approving.

In addition, among those registered to vote, 45% believe the country is going in the right direction versus 34% who believe the US is going in the wrong direction and 21% not being sure. The group most disenchanted with the direction of the country skews English dominant, pertaining to Latinos residing in the West and Southwest regions, where the economic conditions have hit hardest.