Freelance gardeners, house cleaners and car-wash employees are among the first workers hit by the recession. With the economy in accelerating freefall, statistics cannot keep up with their deteriorating plight. Still, the physical absence of such workers from neighborhoods and businesses provides plenty of anecdotal evidence that traditionally Latino-immigrant job markets are rapidly contracting. (In the case of car-washes, the "washeros" also represent some of the city's most exploited wage earners.)
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Today's L.A. Times profiles several gardeners and landscape professionals who find their opportunities evaporating. The bottom line is an eternal one: During hard times even people who still have homes and jobs suddenly realize how much of a luxury it is to have someone do the heavy lifting (or raking) for them, and will cut down on such amenities. One quote in the piece is cause for further alarm among journalists: Asked how those who have been cut back cut back themselves, one gardener replied that he has stopped his newspaper subscription.