by Derek Major
March 20, 2020
The coronavirus has left almost every industry reeling as many Americans look to work from home. However, many African American and Hispanic workers do not have this option.
According to a study from the Economic Policy Group, fewer than one in five black workers and roughly one in six Hispanic workers can work from home. At the same time, 30% of white workers, 37% of Asian workers, and 31% of non-Hispanic or Latino workers can telecommute.
The study also features a chart showing that the higher the wage an individual earns, the more likely it is that they can telecommute. Only 9.2% of low-wage workers can work from home. More than 60% of higher-wage workers can telecommute.
Low-wage workers tend to work in the hospitality and service industries where, the study observed, less than 10% of workers can telecommute. More than half of workers in the financial activities, professional and business services, and information industries can telecommute.
“To make matters worse, those who have children have to navigate continuing to work while also providing adequate care for their children as schools shut their doors,” the study said. “Among all workers, only 34.9% of parents in households with children can telework. This means that not only are their jobs vulnerable, but the care of their children may be as well.”
The government is taking steps in the right direction, passing the Family First Coronavirus Response Act this week. The bill will provide limited increases to paid sick leave coverage, nutrition assistance, and unemployment insurance among other benefits. However, the Economic Policy Group believes the bill does not go far enough.
“There are substantial loopholes in the paid sick coverage provided,” the study states. “It will do little to help the estimated 3 million workers, including 900,000 leisure and hospitality workers, who we estimate will lose their jobs by this summer.”
Low-wage workers have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus outbreak in the chances of catching the virus, retaining employment during the outbreak, and potentially acquiring new employment once American life returns to normal.