A new EPI report explores the economic, health, and social conditions faced by Latinx workers and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report authors—director of EPI’s program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy Valerie Wilson, senior economist Elise Gould, and research assistant Daniel Perez—show that Latinx workers have suffered greater economic distress than their white counterparts since COVID-19 began spreading in the United States. These outcomes have been driven by the fact that Latinx workers already had lower pre-pandemic wages, income, and wealth, as well as less access to health care and other important job-related benefits.
“Despite the seemingly universal reach of the pandemic, COVID-19 has been far from ‘the great equalizer’ as some have proclaimed,” said Wilson. “As a group, Latinx workers face a double bind: They are the least likely to be able to work from home to avoid coronavirus exposure and the most likely to have lost their job during the COVID-19 recession.”
Additional key findings include:
- While two-thirds of white workers can earn paid sick days, less than half (45.9%) of Latinx workers have that same benefit.
- Among those ages 35–44, Latinx Americans are nearly nine times as likely to die from COVID as white Americans.
- Latino workers are paid only $0.75 for every dollar paid to a white man. Latina workers, who face both gender and ethnic discrimination, are paid even less—$0.64 on the white male dollar.
- More than one in six Latinx people in this country live below the poverty line—that’s below about $26,000 annual income for a family of four.
- Latinx renters were far more likely to not have paid their July rent than white renters. And they were far less confident in their ability to pay August’s rent than white renters.
- Among the employed, Latinx workers are over three times as likely to be uninsured as white workers.
The report highlights how the federal coronavirus policy response has not addressed—and even exacerbated—these disparities, including through mandating meatpacking industries to reopen and excluding undocumented Latinx workers from unemployment insurance benefits and stimulus payments. The authors also stress that the 3.2 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico must be included in the federal response. With 43.1% of the population living in poverty, few of the island’s residents are positioned to weather the economic crisis without assistance from the U.S. government.
“Economic insecurity, coupled with disproportionate job losses, have magnified the current economic damage to Latinx workers,” said Gould. “Policymakers have largely failed to address these long-standing underlying disparities in economic and health outcomes, and Latinx workers and their families have paid a heavy price.”
“Latinx households were economically insecure and suffered inequitable access to health care well before the coronavirus pandemic tore through the United States. The effects of COVID-19 on the economic and physical well-being of Latinx Americans were sadly predictable—but no less devastating,” said Perez.
This report comes after a previous EPI report highlighted the disproportionate impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on Black workers and their families. You can read it here.