COVID-19

Black women twice as likely as white men to suffer economically from COVID-19

Kimberly Adams Apr 30, 2020
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Risk of job loss is already a reality for many black women. John Moore/Getty Images
COVID-19

Black women twice as likely as white men to suffer economically from COVID-19

Kimberly Adams Apr 30, 2020
Risk of job loss is already a reality for many black women. John Moore/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting and exacerbating economic inequality in the U.S. New numbers reveal how risk associated with the virus is playing out for different demographic groups. We’re learning that risk is far higher in communities of color.

New research from McKinsey & Company explores the impact of COVID-19 on black Americans, looking at the industries and geographic areas where black people are working. 

“Thirty-nine percent of black jobs are at risk, versus 34% for the broader population,” said Shelley Stewart, a partner at McKinsey. “And, yeah, some folks may say it’s only five percentage points, but that’s a pretty big difference.”

That could be close to a million additional black jobs at risk.

That’s echoed by research conducted by LeanIn.org, which found that risk of job loss is already a reality for many black women in particular.

“We know black women are twice as likely as white men to say they’ve been either laid off, furloughed or had their hours or pay reduced because of the pandemic,” said LeanIn chief executive Rachel Thomas.

One example of many: 48-year-old Zaborah Roane in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was working at an early childhood education center with about 10 toddlers before she was laid off due to COVID-19.

“I do miss them, now. I don’t even know if they’ll like even remember me,” Roane said. She also doesn’t know when she’ll go back to work. She’s getting some unemployment insurance and financial help from her union.

Roane was unsurprised to learn black women were feeling the economic impact more than others.

“We’re the ones that are in these industries that don’t have health insurance, that don’t have paid sick time off. We don’t make a lot of money. So we’re suffering a lot right now,” Roane said.

According to Thomas, the current economic shock has been exacerbated by inequality present before the pandemic.

“Women, on average, are paid 18% less than men here in the U.S.,” she said. “It’s worse for black women. They make 38% less than white men. It’s worse from Latinas. They make 45% less than white men.”

Thomas says those lower wages translate to less savings, which means less of a safety net when women are faced with an unexpected job loss of an unknown duration.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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