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COVID-19

Studies show financial pain from COVID-19 is not spread equally

Mitchell Hartman Apr 22, 2020
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About 61% of Hispanic households have suffered a partial or total job loss, compared with 44% of black, and 38% of white households. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Studies show financial pain from COVID-19 is not spread equally

Mitchell Hartman Apr 22, 2020
About 61% of Hispanic households have suffered a partial or total job loss, compared with 44% of black, and 38% of white households. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
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Since pandemic shutdowns began last month, 22 million people have filed for unemployment. A new set of weekly numbers comes out Thursday.

The economic pain is wide and deep, but it’s not spread equally. That’s according to two new reports that show the worst job and income losses are happening to black and Hispanic workers.

A Pew Research Center survey asked people if they or someone in their household had lost a job or taken a pay cut due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Hispanic adults are being hit harder in this regard,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew.

Parker says 61% of Hispanic households have suffered a partial or total job loss, compared with 44% of black, and 38% of white households.

The JPMorgan Chase Institute has a new report that finds significant racial gaps in people’s financial capacity to deal with sudden job or income loss.

“The kind of cash buffer that households have in their bank account, blacks and Hispanics actually have significantly lower levels of assets,” said Diana Farrell, the institute’s president.

Farrell says that for every dollar of emergency cash a median-income white family has set aside, a Hispanic family has 47 cents, and a black family has 32 cents.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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