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Avoiding Pitfalls

Hispanics are learning new skills, starting businesses, and aiding family in hopes of a secure landing.

Job Hunting: Avoiding Pitfalls

Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz/Blend Images/Corbis

En español | With a career in banking behind her and eight years in her last position, Juliana Daisy Castro, 58, never imagined she’d be laid off. But in January 2009, as her employer’s Miami office began laying off workers, she got her pink slip. “My husband and I are paying the bills and the mortgage, so we’re better off than some others,” says Castro. “But still, this has been very hard.”

An AARP survey indicates the recession has made life challenging for many older Hispanics. Compared to the general population, twice as many Hispanics 45-plus—21 percent compared to 10 percent—lost their jobs in the economically rocky 12 months ending January 2010. They’ve had trouble paying for housing, food, and utilities, and are putting less into retirement savings. But they are making positive strides.

Many are revamping their work and careers. Twice as many Hispanics, compared to the general population, have started their own business. (See “Entrepreneural Spirit," right.) And many, such as Castro, are taking steps to gain new job skills. The former banker began taking computer courses in April 2009 at Miami Dade College’s School of Community Education. This April, she completed her final course and launched her job search in a new industry. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’m looking to put it to good use,” she says.

The survey also revealed that Hispanics, more than the general population, take advantage of family ties. Some 18 percent, compared to 13 percent of the general population, had a child move in for financial reasons.

Michael Fajardo, 50, of Elk Grove, California, was happy when his 20-year-old son, Rodolfo, finished a program in special effects makeup. But like many other young people, Rodolfo is struggling to find employment. He’s now living back home.

Fajardo, a wastewater treatment plant operator, hasn’t seen a raise since last year. Having his son return home has created financial stress, he admits. But, he adds, “It’s certainly good to have him here. Rodolfo is mi hijo, my buddy.”

As the economy improves, Fajardo is optimistic that his son will land a good job, just as Castro is optimistic that she’ll soon put her new skills into action.

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