January 14, 2022

Poll shows Hispanic families hit hard by pandemic

A poll of 1,000 New Mexico Hispanic families indicates that Hispanic families have struggled financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BSP Research released a statewide survey Thursday done on behalf of several organizations detailing the economic hardships those polled said they faced. Some of the key findings include that the poll found that 28 percent of Hispanic families polled earn less than $20,000 in 2020 and 60 percent have $1,000 or less in savings.

Marcela Diaz, executive director of Santa Fe-based Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said several nonprofit and grassroots organizations collected at the onset of the pandemic to form the Economic Relief Working Group to provide information between Latinos in the state, the immigrant and Spanish-speaking populations and policy makers and the government in Santa Fe.

The Economic Relief Working Group commissioned BSP Research to conduct the poll and produce the survey based on it.

Diaz said that with 30 percent of the community struggling economically, and the state government flush with cash from the American Rescue Plan Act funds, the Economic Relief Working Group hopes that the Legislature will consider using some of that money to help struggling Latino families.

Gabriel Sanchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, said a “large segment of the population indicated they still need some form of government help because they are still struggling financially.”

According to the poll, 23 percent of Latino families in New Mexico had trouble paying their rent or mortgage while 24 percent had pay or hours cut at their jobs.

Sanchez called the findings “very sobering.”

“It’s tough times for everybody across the state,” Sanchez said.

But, he added that gender is “a very important factor” in the economic struggles of Latino families.

“Latinas have been hit hard economically. They’re more likely to have difficulty paying bills and utilities. They’re more likely to have lost a job. Or they’ve had to spend their savings or go into debt. Gender is the major storyline,” Sanchez said.

He said the “economic reality” is “forcing Latinas [in New Mexico] to make difficult decisions.”

He said the poll found that Latinas have had to cut back on basic household goods and necessities.

“Thirty-two percent used up most of their savings; 28 percent had to borrow money; 24 percent skipped a mortgage or car payment,” he said.

In addition to collecting financial information from the respondents, BSP Research also asked about policy priorities among the families. Economic priorities addressing more affordable housing, creating jobs with better wages, more direct cash assistance and reduced college tuition were some of the issues of greatest interest to the respondents.

Sanchez said the respondents also wanted to see the state expand Unemployment Insurance benefits to all workers, regardless of citizenship status.

The survey of Latino adults used a blended approach that included online surveys, live telephone interviews conducted via landlines and cell phones between Dec. 8 and Dec. 29, 2021. The survey was available in both English and Spanish and carries an overall +/- 3.1 percent margin of error.