There are millions less people in the U.S. workforce than before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. People in the lowest wage levels were affected by high unemployment rates hitting 20 percent according to an article in vox.com. Job losses from COVID-19 widened the inequality gap even further. Many people in higher-paying jobs continued to stay in the labor force which had an impact on the work participation rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is a noticeable disparity between the unemployment rate of Black workers and White workers.
White workers were more unionized than Black workers. Whites and unionized workers have experiencing less effects from the economic conditions than Blacks. The jobs recovery for wealthier white workers has improved, but for Black and Brown workers the jobs situation have gotten worse. The unemployment rates are highest among Black and Latinx workers. While job prospects for Black workers got worse the unemployment rate fell below 5 percent for higher income White workers reported vox.com.
When the overall unemployment rate spiked to 14.8 percent in April 2020, it was at 14.1 percent for white workers according to labor statistics data. While Black workers saw rates of 16.7 percent, and Latinx workers hit 18.9 percent, the unemployment rate for White workers were at 14.5 percent. While unemployment for Whites dropped below 10 percent last July; Black workers didn’t fare well. In January 2021, when the unemployment rate for Blacks was at 9.2 percent, it was 5.7 percent for Whites”.
Unemployed workers have access to unemployment insurance, but it’s not clear when benefits will end and whether congress will continues to provide stimulus.“Recessions always exacerbates existing inequalities, but this one is just doing that more than we’ve ever seen before,” said Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist at the Department of Labor.
NNV Blog Writer Sister Rose Morris