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Hispanics' Lack of Savings Could Spark Crisis

Stocks in this article: BAC C TROW

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- A glaring lack of retirement preparation within the U.S. Hispanic community could contribute to a national crisis.

That's one of the conclusions drawn by a study released yesterday by the nonprofit Hispanic Institute and the advocacy group Americans for Secure Retirement. Its research uncovered a sweeping lack of retirement planning, less access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, lower levels of personal savings and inadequate financial literacy.

Only 41% of Hispanic workers say they save for retirement and a mere 26% of the group is covered by employer-sponsored retirement plans, compared to 43% of whites and 40% of African-Americans. Of Hispanics collecting Social Security, almost 80% say these benefits make up at least half of their incomes.

Many Hispanics hold low-paying, service jobs with employers who are less likely to offer retirement plans, the study says. Lower wages mean that living expenses take priority over savings. In 2006, the average per capita income for Hispanics was $14,736 compared to $27,951 for non-Hispanics.

Participation rates have been an overlooked concern, in part because Hispanics are younger than the U.S. population overall. The median age for Hispanics is 27 years old, compared to 39 for non-Hispanic whites and 36 years for the U.S. as a whole, according to the study.

The group, however, will age and its presence will grow. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the number of Hispanics in the U.S. to go from 48 million to 132 million by 2050, accounting for nearly 30% of all Americans.

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