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AARP Sponsored National Hispana Leadership Conference

AARP sponsored the National Hispana Leadership Institute Latina Empowerment Conference on Friday in Denver, in which more than 1,000 business-oriented Latinas attended and learned how Hispanic boomers and beyond can safeguard their finances.

Dr. Irene Martinez Jordan, a longtime Colorado educator and a member of the AARP Latina Connection, facilitated the program, “Recession Proofing your Finances.” Panelists included Julie C. Rodriguez, director of development for Colorado State University in Pueblo, Colo. and Toti Cadavid, president of Xcelente Marketing & Public Relations.

The program focused on Latinos, ages 45-64, who find themselves challenged with taking care of their own needs, maintaining their finances and preparing for retirement, as they also provide for children and many times aging parents.

Martinez Jordan highlighted the AARP’s study, “Recession Takes a Toll on Hispanics 45+: Boomers Particularly Hard Hit,” which assesses the impact of the current recession on Latinos.

“This is especially important for some of the most vulnerable individuals in the U.S.—older members of diverse communities—like older Latinas,” Martinez Jordan said. “For many, Social Security is the only source of personal income in their later years.”

forty-three percent of all respondents have had trouble paying for essentials, like food and utilities; 32 percent borrowed money to pay for daily living expenses, and 35 percent cut back on buying medicines.

The entire nation experienced heavy job losses over the past year. However, 21 percent of Hispanics 45 and older lost their jobs compared to 10 percent of the general population, she said.

But Latinos are doing something about the current economic downturn. She said the report indicates they are reinventing themselves, but they need to do more to create and protect retirement savings.

“They’re looking for training opportunities and other approaches to keep their skills current and help them find new employment, even in different areas of work,” she said. “They’re also taking on the opportunity of entrepreneurship, which is on the rise.”

Among people looking for new jobs, older Hispanics were twice as likely as the general population to have started their own businesses—8 percent compared to 4 percent—according to the study.