Many Californians have been struggling with rising gas prices this week, but Latinos especially are feeling the pain at the pump.
Gasoline prices reached up to $5 per gallon on Monday, after a week of soaring gasoline prices. According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which tracks gas prices from the Oil Price Information Service, the cost of fuel is reaching record-breaking levels.
Although the record-setting prices have begun to ease, the cost of the gas prices is still at unprecedented levels. The average price on Wednesday was around $4.67 a gallon, making it the highest in the nation.
Latinos are traditionally among the hardest hit when gas prices go up. According to a Center for American Progress report, 72 percent of Latino households experienced financial hardship in 2011 as a result of rising gas prices. The numbers are even worse for California. Last year, 88 percent of Latinos reported financial hardship due to soaring gas prices.
Angelica Solis is the Executive Director of the Alliance for a Better Community, a California-based group that promotes economic development and financial literacy for Latinos. According to Solis, many Latinos that the Alliance works with come from lower-income families in the Los Angeles area, and are having to cut back on all their expenses in order to save money.
“This had already been the case because of the economic crisis, but the Latino community is further impacted in addition to what they’ve already been experiencing. They’re being resourceful,” Solis says.
Solis says she seen many Alliance members get creative with how they are coping.
“Latinos have been really resourceful relying on carpooling with families. You also see changes in the types of cars they’re thinking about buying and no longer buying bigger cars,” Solis says.
Armando Salazar, owner of Santa Cecilia restaurant in Los Angeles, says he’s turned to public transportation in order to save money. Salazar says that he only takes the car when it’s completely necessary.
“We take the train now so that way we can cut back on how much we spend,” Salazar explains.
While Latinos are taking different steps in order to save money, small businesses are facing more constraints in how they cope with the crisis.
Juan Santos of Santos Flower Shop in Santa Ana, California says the gas prices are forcing him to raise the prices in his store — and many customers aren’t happy about it.
“It bothers the clients, because the prices are going up. And now because of that, some are not coming back,” Santos worries.
Santos says there aren’t many ways his store can cut back on the amount of money they spend on gas. For him, it’s just one of many unavoidable expenses associated with running a business.
“A lot of people are taking public transportation because it’s cheaper but we can’t do that,” Salazar says.
Salazar’s restaurant makes a lot of deliveries and he has had to cut down on employees’ hours in order to save money for gas.
“We’re still trying to keep our prices the same, but it’s tough,” Salazar says.
On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown stepped in to order a switch to the cheaper winter gas in order to ease the burden. Californians are already seeing a decrease in the prices of gasoline, and the worst spike in prices may be over. Salazar says he wishes prices would continue to drop. “I hope it’s not going to stay this way for too long.”