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.