Job losses hit U.S. Latino immigrants hard: study

PHOENIX Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:53pm EST

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Latino immigrants to the United States lost jobs at a faster pace than the broader work force last year, following a sharp contraction in the construction industry where many work, a study released on Thursday showed.

The survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, based on Census figures, showed unemployment among foreign-born Hispanics reached 8 percent in the last quarter of 2008, up from 5.1 percent a year earlier.

The losses among the group outstripped those in the broader labor market, where unemployment rose to 6.6 percent in the period, up from 4.6 percent a year earlier, the study found.

"Job losses are now widespread across the economy, but the construction sector remains the leading source of job loss for both Hispanics and non-Hispanics," the study said.

Since the United States slipped into recession in late 2007, some 3.6 million jobs have been shed across the economy.

Around 10.8 million foreign-born Hispanics worked in the United States at the close of last year, according to government figures, which do not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.

The declining work opportunities stateside contributed to a fall in remittances to Mexico last year, where workers sent home $25.1 billion, a fall of 3.6 percent over 2007.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor, editing by Doina Chiacu)

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