NEW YORK – A year ago, Elvia Banuelos’ life looked good. The 39-year-old mother of two young children said she was confident of getting a new management job at the US Census Bureau – she would make money to supplement the child support she receives to keep her children healthy, happy, and in good health To hold day care.
When the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic last March that forced hundreds of millions of people into strict lockdowns, Banuelos’ perspective changed. The new job failed, child alimony was suspended due to a job loss, and she became a mother who stayed at home when day care was closed.
“The only thing I could do was make my rent, so everything else was difficult,” said Banuelos of Orland, California.
Millions of Americans have taken a devastating toll on everything from lost loved ones to lost jobs during the year-long coronavirus pandemic. More than 530,000 people have died in the United States. These losses have not hit all Americans equally, with color communities particularly hard hit by both the virus and the economic fallout.
A new survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs shows that Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely to have suffered job and other income losses, and those who lost incomes, more likely than white Americans during the pandemic found themselves in deep financial holes.
On top of that, black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to say that they are close to someone who has died of COVID-19 and is less likely to have received a vaccination. The pandemic has killed Black and Hispanic Americans at rates disproportionate to their populations in the United States. This comes from the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Banuelos, who identifies as Latina, said the inequality in pandemic experiences between “the upper class and people in a closer situation” became clear early on in the pandemic. Even after two rounds of direct federal stimulus checks, she felt further back than wealthy Americans.
The relief “didn’t last that long,” said Banuelos.
Overall, 62% of Hispanic Americans and 54% of Black Americans lost some form of household income, including job losses, wage cuts, work time cuts, and unpaid vacation, during the pandemic, compared with 45% of White Americans.
For other racial and ethnic groups, including Asian Americans and Native Americans, the sample sizes are too small to be analyzed in the AP-NORC survey.
Jeremy Shouse, a North Carolina restaurant manager, saw his working hours cut sharply in the early months of the pandemic when the small business was forced to close. Shouse, a 33-year-old black man, said the restaurant has since reopened but made more than $ 5,000 a day before the pandemic to just $ 200 a few days before the pandemic.
“A year later and things are still not the same,” Shouse said, adding that his wages have fallen 20%.
About 6 in 10 Hispanics and about half of black Americans say their households are still exposed to the effects of income loss from the pandemic, compared with about 4 in 10 white Americans. Black and Hispanic Americans are also particularly likely to say the effects were great.
“We realize that systemic racism is a big part of this process,” said Rashawn Ray, a fellow governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institute who recently co-authored a report on racial differences and the Detroit pandemic. “I think what we’ll see when the dust settles is that the racial divide has actually widened.”
There have long been racial differences in the way Americans experience economic downturns and recessions. However, after recovering from the great recession and well into the Trump administration, the unemployment gap between black and white Americans narrowed due to strong employment growth and economic activity. However, a recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that a gap that had narrowed to just 3 percentage points had increased to 5.4 percentage points last August, undoing some of the gains made during the recovery .
The AP-NORC poll also found that Hispanic Americans are particularly likely to believe it will take a long time to work their way out of the financial hole. About half of Hispanics say they are still feeling the effects of lost income and that it will take at least six months for them to recover financially. About a third of black Americans say the same thing, compared to about a quarter of white Americans.
Forty-one percent of Hispanic Americans say their current household income is lower than it was when the pandemic started, compared to 29% of Black Americans and 25% of White Americans.
And about 4 in 10 black and Hispanic Americans couldn’t pay a bill in the last month, compared to about 2 in 10 white Americans.
For people of color, the trauma has been exacerbated by immense personal losses due to economic turmoil. About 30% of Black and Hispanic Americans report having a close friend or relative who has died of the coronavirus since last March, compared with 15% of white Americans.
Debra Fraser-Howze, founder of Choose Healthy Life, a Black Church initiative to close disparities in public health, said she was confident the black community could recover economically and medically.
“The community’s economic hardship is grim,” said Fraser-Howze, “and it will get worse for a long time.” But we are a community of survivors – we came through slavery and Jim Crow. We figured out how to stay alive. I believe and believe that our community will return. “
Swanson reported from Washington. Morrison, who reported from New York, and Stafford, who reported from Detroit, are members of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.
The AP-NORC survey of 1,434 adults was conducted February 25 through March 1 using a sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak probability-based panel, which is believed to be representative of the US population. The margin of error in the sample for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.