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Jan 20, 2022

Axios Latino

¡Muy buen día! Today we dive into purchasing power, a fight against pesticides, TikTok baking and missing pharmacies.

Situational awareness: UnidosUS president and CEO Janet Murguía testified at a Congressional hearing today, urging members of the House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth to pass the Build Better Act, immigration reform and better access to homeownership to help Latinos who have been disproportionately impacted in the pandemic.

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This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván, is 1,277 words, about a 5-minute read.

1 big thing: Latinos feel the burn from inflation
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Data: Hispanic Consumer Sentiment Index, Florida Atlantic University. Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Latinos in the U.S. are less optimistic about the economy since last year as inflation threatens to cut into their buying power, Marina writes.

Why it matters: Latinos have been economic growth drivers for the past decade, opening new businesses at faster rates than other groups and increasing their homeownership rates. The group's overall output would give them the seventh-largest GDP in the world if they were a country.

By the numbers: Prices rose 7% last year for items like food, cars and energy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • As a result, the percentage of survey respondents who said they’re better off than last year fell from 62% to 59%, while those who said they expect to be better off financially in 2022 dropped from 78% to 70%, according to the Hispanic Consumer Sentiment Index.
  • Hispanic confidence was somewhat stable in the last year.
  • Latinos make up more than 18% of the population, so their change in outlook could foreshadow how the rest of Americans rethink spending their money.

Between the lines: A Bank of America study from late last year found people of color in the U.S. and low-income households, especially Black and Latino families, usually spend more of their income on staples that are prone to price increases, like food and gas.

  • They also still tend to use cash more often, as they often lack bank accounts or have to pay more in bank fees when they do have one, making them more vulnerable to rising prices.

What to watch: Inflation was the fourth greatest concern for Latinos in the U.S. in December, per an Axios/Ipsos with Noticias Telemundo poll.

  • The issue could sway Latino voters in this year’s midterms.
  • A quarter of Hispanics polled in December said they felt both Democrats and Republicans take them for granted.
2. Fewer pharmacies when you’re Black or Latino

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Latino and Black neighborhoods in 30 major U.S. cities have considerably fewer pharmacies than their white non-Hispanic counterparts, a disparity that deepens health inequalities, studies show.

Why it matters: The lack of sites to refill prescriptions, get vaccinations and buy contraceptive care or over-the-counter medicines puts residents of those neighborhoods at a severe disadvantage.

What’s happening: One in three neighborhoods is a “pharmacy desert,” and it is more likely to be in areas where the majority of residents are Latino or Black, research shows.

  • This was particularly prevalent in diverse cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.
  • The average distance to the nearest pharmacy was 1 mile, a challenge for people who depend on public transportation or have mobility issues.

Bottom line: Local governments can address disparities by offering tax cuts to pharmacies that open locations in barren areas.

  • States could also provide pharmacies slightly higher Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates, researchers say.
3. Female farmworkers denounce toxic exposure

Farmworkers in Florida with satchels decorated as part of an awareness campaign. Photo: Courtesy of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Hispanic women who work in agriculture are raising awareness of the toxic impact of pesticides.

Details: The women and their families are decorating morrales — satchel-like bags — with information on pesticides and what to do in case of poisoning.

  • The bags will be showcased on social media as part of a yearly national campaign led by nonprofits Líderes Campesinas and the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas.
  • The campaign ends in February, which is pesticide awareness and safety education month.

The big picture: Studies show farmworkers develop more illnesses and injuries from chemical exposure than workers in other occupations.

  • Women who handle produce are twice as likely to have those health problems because they work with crops that are more likely to be sprayed with chemicals.
  • Pesticide exposure among female farmworkers has been linked to birth defects.

Of note: 64% of farm and field laborers are of Hispanic origin, according to the USDA.

  • Over a quarter of agriculture workers who sort or pick are women.

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and a coalition that also includes the Michael J. Fox Foundation sued the Environmental Protection Agency in September over the herbicide paraquat.

  • Last summer, the EPA again approved the use of paraquat, which can be found in soybean, cotton and almond fields, even though it is banned in over 30 countries partly because ingesting even a little can be fatal and it is linked to Parkinson’s disease.
4. Giving Latino restaurants a boost

Chefs in the kitchen of a Puerto Rican restaurant in Oakland, Calif., in February 2021. Photo: Stephen Lam/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Hispanic-owned restaurants in major U.S. cities who need help staying afloat as the pandemic rages on can now access up to $10,000 in grants.

Why it matters: The food and hospitality industries are still recovering from massive coronavirus-driven closures in 2020. That is especially true for small businesses owned by people of color.

What to know: The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is partnering with food delivery service GrubHub to give out over $2 million in grants to 300 businesses.

  • Grants will range from $5,000 to $10,000 for restaurants whose ownership is majority-Hispanic, have under 20 full-time workers and have federal tax IDs, the chamber said.
  • Restaurant owners have until Jan. 26 to apply.

Go deeper: Digital skills are key to Latino businesses

5. Stories we’re watching

A member of a Brazilian special military unit on a favela operation. Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images

1. A Brazilian special military unit launched a new wave of anti-gang raids in Rio de Janeiro's favelas yesterday.

  • The unit has been accused of torture and extrajudicial killings, and criticized over civilian deaths from stray bullets during their favela operations.
  • In May, 28 people died during a similar raid in Jacarezinho, the same favela where the unit started its operations yesterday. The UN called for an independent investigation after reports of executions last year.
  • The governor of Rio, Cláudio Castro, said the units are the only way to rid the slums of gangs.

2. Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy is at an end: A judge signed off on a plan Tuesday that will significantly reduce the amount of the island has to pay its creditors.

  • Negotiations between Puerto Rico and the U.S. government had been ongoing for five years.
  • The financial crisis had a bigger influence than hurricanes on Puerto Ricans leaving the island for good.

3. Two journalists were killed in Mexico this week for doing their jobs.

6. 🍰 1 smile to go: Dancing with the baker

Carlos Enrique Monzón baking and making TikToks. Source: Noticias Telemundo

TikTok has become a marketing boon for a Salvadoran baker who mixes his pastry skills with reggaeton and rancheras.

Details: Carlos Enrique Monzón has amassed over 550,000 followers with tutorials for homemade fondant, rainbow-colored jell-o and short videos of him decorating quinceañera cakes.

  • It is an example of how Latinos and Latino Americans are increasingly turning to social platforms, especially high-growth ones like TikTok, to further their reach.

Thanks for reading, we’ll be back Tuesday.