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Economic Downturn in US Hardest on Minorities

Hispanic children walk through a parking lot after returning a shopping cart at one of the Mexican grocery stores in Aurora, Illinois, March 29, 2011. More than 35,000 of about 55,000 new residents in Aurora between 2000 to 2010 were Hispanic.

Newly available U.S. government figures show the wealth gap between whites and minorities in the United States has grown to its widest point in 25 years, due to the recent economic downturn.

The Pew Research Center on Tuesday released a study of census figures showing that the economic downturn took the biggest toll on Hispanic households, where median wealth fell by two-thirds between 2005 and 2009. Median wealth in black households fell by about half, and by just 16 percent for white households.

Wealth - assets minus debt - for average white households in 2009 was about $113,000. For Hispanics, it was $6,325 and for blacks it was nearly $5,700.

The study said the recession's heavier impact on minorities is because more minorities invest their wealth in buying homes, whereas white households are more likely to also have investments in the stock market.

While both the housing market and the stock market suffered considerable damage between 2005 and 2009, the stock market has been quicker to recover. Home values are still down.

In addition, the study said, a disproportionate share of Hispanic households are in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, where the housing market suffered the most damage.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.