01/27/2012 06:06 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2012

Hispanics Believe They Were Hit Harder In Bad Economy, Pew Reports

As the debate on immigration widens the gap between Republican and Democratic Latino voters, there seems to be one issue that unites Hispanics -- the need for jobs.

54 percent of Latinos in the U.S. believe they were hit the hardest during the recession, according to a recent report by Pew Hispanic Center.

According to the report, 59 percent of Latino survey subjects said that they or someone in their household has been out of work in the past year compared with 51 percent of the general public. 75 percent said that their personal finances are in “only fair” or “poor” shape, 49 percent said that they canceled or delayed a major purchase in the past year, and 28 percent of Latino homeowners say they owe more on their home than they could sell it for today, compared with just 14 percent of homeowners in the general public.

In other words, the economic situation for Latinos has not gotten significantly better.

The unemployment rate for Latinos in December 2011 was 11.0 percent, up from 6.3 percent at the start of the recession in December 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that same period, the national unemployment rate increased from 5.0 percent to 8.5 percent.

Last December, Census estimates found that nearly half of Americans were considered "poor or low-income". When broken down by race and ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

Although the statistics should indicate otherwise, Hispanics are somehow still optimistic about their financial future: Pew found that, “Fully two-thirds (67 percent) of Latinos say they expect their financial situation to improve over the next year, compared with 58% of the general population who say the same.”

Pew's findings were based on a survey of 1,220 Latino adults, conducted from November 9 through December 7, 2011 throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey was done in Spanish and English on cellular and land line telephones.