COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Black Workers in New Orleans Face Higher Obstacles Than White Workers

A new brief released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development looks into the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on workers in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

As a majority-Black city that was already grappling with deep-seated racial inequality, the global pandemic is dramatically impacting the backbone and soul of New Orleans: Black people.

Not only have Black people in New Orleans accounted for two-thirds of the residents who have died from the coronavirus, but, as workers, they also comprise the lion’s share of the occupations most impacted by COVID-19. Since the pandemic struck, Black people across the US have either lost their jobs or have been classified as essential workers; the latter group has been forced to make decisions between protecting their health or receiving a paycheck.

Policymakers in Louisiana have long ignored the economic security and well-being of the population in its largest city and have now left its residents to work in occupations most at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Black people constitute 79% of all cooks, 87% of all hairdressers, and 84% of home health aides in Orleans Parish, but they only comprise 60% of the population. Women of all races are disproportionately represented in employment as childcare workers, home health aides, and maids and housekeepers. Most working people in these occupations lack paid sick leave or health insurance.

Since the onset of COVID-19, hospitality jobs have declined by nearly 50%, about double the decline of the next closest industry. Cities like New Orleans that rely on tourism and hospitality are likely to experience deeper economic slowdowns, but there is also a growing concern that New Orleans will experience permanent job loss and that Black and Brown people and women will be disproportionately affected.

Click here to read and download the full brief (PDF).

To learn more, listen to our Hidden Truths podcast episode with Ursula Price and LaToya Johnson of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice for an in-depth conversation on “COVID capitalism” and how New Orleans’ Black and Brown workers are fighting for a seat at the table to inform policy and practice.

Black and Brown Owned Businesses Hit Hardest by COVID-19 Pandemic

This fact sheet based on data by Robert Fairlie and released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development shows that across the United States, businesses owned by Black, Latinx, and Asian people have closed down at an alarming rate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent estimates, for example, show that 40 percent of the revenues of Black-owned businesses are more likely to be in sectors most impacted by the pandemic including leisure, hospitality and retail. Between February and April of 2020, more than 3 million small businesses closed dow n across the county. Businesses owned by people of color, women, and immigrants were most severely harmed, closing down faster than the national average. White owned businesses have closed down at a much slower rate, the only group to see a smaller share of businesses close than the national average.

Small businesses serve vital roles in our economy, particularly for people who are denied opportunities by employers and the job market. For Black and Brown people, small businesses are often the only pathway to economic security and/or a job where their dignity stays intact. As federal and state governments work to address the economic fallout of the pandemic, they must center businesses owned by people of color and women to ensure they are able to survive during and after the pandemic.

Click here to read and download the full fact sheet (PDF).

Rules of Our Economy Are Harming People of Color, Women, and Immigrants During COVID-19

This fact sheet released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development provides an analysis of a selection of jobs most likely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in California.

The jobs most at risk are overwhelmingly low-wage jobs, held primarily by people of color, women, and immigrants. With a median annual income of just $22,900 a year, these jobs pay poorly and have little to no benefits, making it so workers are unlikely to have savings to fall back on while weathering the effects of the pandemic. As California grapples with the necessary disruption to everyday life, communities with the least amount of power are dealing with the worst economic consequences.

Without meaningful interventions from state and federal governments, workers of color and women will be left struggling with the fallout from COVID-19 for decades to come.

Click here to read and download the full fact sheet (PDF).