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Race and Economy

Black, Latino workers much more likely to have unemployment claims rejected, analysis finds

Nova Safo Jul 31, 2020
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Analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, finds that Black and Latino workers are having their unemployment claims rejected at disproportionately higher rates, compared to white workers. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Race and Economy

Black, Latino workers much more likely to have unemployment claims rejected, analysis finds

Nova Safo Jul 31, 2020
Heard on:
Analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, finds that Black and Latino workers are having their unemployment claims rejected at disproportionately higher rates, compared to white workers. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
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While Congress figures out the next round of unemployment aid, a new survey suggests states have some work to do to distribute that aid more fairly.

Analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, finds that Black and Latino workers are having their unemployment claims rejected at disproportionately higher numbers compared to white workers.

The Bipartisan Policy Center was conducting a survey with Morning Consult of workers on unemployment insurance, when pollsters discovered something odd: By only talking to those on unemployment aid, minorities were being significantly underrepresented in the survey.

So, they went back and talked to respondents who had told them their aid applications were rejected, and they made a surprising discovery.

“What we found was when people of color applied for unemployment benefits, they were much less likely to be approved,” said Ben Gitis, senior policy analyst at the BPC.

The survey found that white workers made up 78% of aid recipients, even though they accounted for only half of all unemployed workers.

By contrast, Black and Latino workers made up nearly 40% of the unemployed, but were less than 20% of aid recipients.

Why is this happening? Gitis said analysts are not sure.

“But it is noteworthy, particularly right now because Black and Hispanic individuals are carrying a lot of the burden of job loss,” he said.

Gitis said policymakers need to take a look at how eligibility for aid is crafted to make sure more of the unemployed are covered.

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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