We all know how dramatically the COVID-19 pandemic impacted American businesses and the U.S. labor market. But a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics looking at unemployment data in 2020 paints a bit clearer picture of just which groups were impacted the most by the global crisis.
According to data from the agency, nearly 1 in 10 U.S. families — defined as “a group of two or more people who live together and are related by birth, marriage or adoption” — were impacted by unemployment over the course of 2020.
In other words, 9.8% of all families in America included at least one family member who became unemployed in 2020. That figure is double the number of families that experienced unemployment in 2019 when just 4.9% of families were impacted by job loss.
In reviewing the data, Anneken Tappe of CNN Business also reported that the economic hardship caused by the pandemic was spread unevenly across the population.
“White families were the least likely to have an unemployed family member, at 9%, while Hispanic families were the most likely at 14.3%,” she said. “This was a big change from the prior year when Asian families were the least likely to have a jobless member, and Black families were the most likely.”
As of March 2021, the BLS has reported that while levels of unemployment are dropping for white workers, the unemployment rate for Blacks (9.6%) and Hispanics (7.9%) remain well above pre-pandemic levels.
The pandemic hit industries such as hospitality and travel the hardest because they often require face-to-face interactions, which weren’t possible with lockdowns and social distancing protocols. This sector also happens to employ a disproportionate number of Hispanic workers.
The BLS review of unemployment data also continued to show what a severe problem job loss for women was in the country last year.
“Overall, the jobless rate for mothers jumped four percentage points to 7.5% last year,” Tappe reported. In contrast, “the unemployment rate for fathers rose by just 3.4 points, to 5.6%.”
According to Tappe, the number of mothers searching for employment also continues to show a giant disparity based on gender, saying, “The labor force participation rate, which measures workers who are employed or looking for a job, fell for both mothers and fathers, but at 71.2% was far lower for mothers compared with 92.3% for fathers.”