Black and Latino workers hit the hardest by unemployment during COVID-19 pandemic

Unemployment is at an all-time high in North Carolina and getting back to work can be tough for many people. Statistics show it's even harder for minorities looking for a job during a pandemic.

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According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 11.1 million unemployed Americans.

Black and Latino workers report the highest unemployment rates at 10.8% and 8.8%, while both groups historically report higher levels of unemployment; these numbers especially spiked throughout the pandemic - both reaching above 16%.

"When the economic winds start blowing, they harm people of color more dramatically than white folks," said Patrick McHugh with NC Justice, and Senior Economic Analyst.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic workers have the largest gap in unemployment rates between 2019 and 2020 compared to other ethnicities. Black and Hispanic women have a higher rate of unemployment compared to White women according to statistics.

McHugh says due to COVID-19 concerns, many jobs are now done remotely and it's tough for some unemployed to jump into a job like this.

"One thing I think is important to recognize is unique about this time around is that it's underscoring the level of the digital divide in our economy and in our state. We've failed to break down the barriers to sorts of careers that a lot of white folks have access to many folks of color are forced into occupants that are very difficult to do remotely," said McHugh.

McHugh believes these trends can change, but it will take work.

"I firmly believe that these inadequacies are solvable. These inadequacies didn't happen by accident. They are the consequences of generations of choices that we have made and how we build our economy," he said.

The good news is unemployment rates across all groups have significantly decreased since June, but most remain double what they were this time last year.
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