The increase in home foreclosures plus the high jobless and poverty rates brought on by the recession have affected the children of North Carolina, particularly Hispanics, according to a new report.

According to the study "Children in the Great Recession," prepared by Action for Children of North Carolina, due to the slow recovery of the state's economy and cuts in aid programs for low-income families, youngsters now face greater economic difficulties than in the past.

The report released Monday coincides with a recent study by the Pew Research Center, which revealed that the average wealth of U.S. Hispanic households fell 66 percent between 2005-2009.

North Carolina is among the 10 most populated states in the country with more than 9 million inhabitants, of whom 8.4 percent, or 800,120, are Hispanic, according to the 2010 Census.

Over the last decade, the Hispanic community in the state grew by 18.4 percent, with the number of children showing a sharp rise of 156 percent.

In 2009 an estimated 500,000 youngsters in North Carolina - one in five - lived in households with incomes below the federal poverty level for a family of four, $22,050 per year.

Hispanics were hit the hardest, since 77 percent of children of that community live in low-income families, a 42.3 percent increase in just two years.

"While all the children in the state have been affected by the recession, Hispanic kids have suffered more, partly because of the disparity in wages and unemployment between their parents and those in other communities," Laila Bell, author of the report, told Efe Monday.

"All families need work and the support of a stable income in order to build up their assets and live in prosperous communities. That doesn't happen with Hispanics, who by the end of the recession will be living in poorer households," the researcher said.

As has occurred at a national level, the jobless rate among Hispanics in the state also rose significantly, since in 2007 it stood at 5.7 percent and in 2009 it reached 13.6 percent compared with the national average of 12.6 percent.

Patricia Martinez, director of Tu Agencia Latina, a non-profit organization in the southwestern town of Monroe that helps low-income families with food and clothing, said that the situation for immigrants has deteriorated over the last few years, in part because of the strict immigration measures.

"Companies are checking their employees' papers and so many have lost their jobs and seek help in putting food on the table for their kids. People have to decide whether to pay the rent or buy food," Martinez told Efe on Monday.

According to Martinez, though Hispanic mothers with children born in this country have the right to receive aid from the federal government, some don't apply for it or avoid it as long as they can out of fear that the authorities will question their legal status in the state.