Welcome back to the weekly roundup. After a hiatus, where we’ve focused on some pressing concerns involving what parents are going to do with the impending school year we’re back with some more general news stories about the state of employment here in the US. The jobs report, released early Thursday morning, indicates job losses persist, with first-time unemployment claims above 1 million for the second straight week and continuing claims still north of 14 million. This comes as Congress remains on summer recess, having failed to shore up an extension of the enhanced stimulus that was propping up the economy. Without the added weekly federal benefits, September 1 could be a grim for renters and homeowners already struggling to cover rent and mortgages. With the unemployment numbers still shaky, this week we’re taking a closer look at just who is being affected.
Black workers losing out both at work and on the unemployment rolls
A new investigation by ProPublica sheds new light on how Black workers are missing out doubly during the pandemic. The gig economy and other forms of non-traditional have expanded greatly since the Great Recession, and Black workers are overrepresented among those workers. But one of the hallmarks of these jobs is a distinct lack of worker protections, such as access to company-provided insurance and unemployment benefits. So, as the economy has contracted and millions of non-traditional, precarious, or part-time workers have been pushed out of the workforce, their status as non-traditional workers means they are less likely to have access to unemployment benefits. And, according to the ProPublica analysis, unemployed Black workers were roughly 50% less likely to receive benefits. ProPublica points out that gig working is not the only factor in the equation, and many states discourage workers from seeking benefits through eligibility guidelines or simply by replacing significantly less of a worker’s normal wages, which also affects Black workers at a higher proportion.
White-collar workers aren’t immune to job losses
There has been much breathless coverage of the transition to telecommuting and similar schemes which is a benefit conferred mostly to white collar workers. However, new data indicates that job losses in white-collar work is on par with losses during the Great Recession, reports Politico. In fact, as low-wage work rebounds new jobs for higher-wage work have only trickled in. Some analysts see this as an indication that employers are nervous about making bets on new jobs with costly hires, instead hoping to wait out the next couple months. It’s too soon to tell whether this is a permanent feature of the post-pandemic world, but it is clear that, while the bulk of job losses have affected low-wage workers, there’s been plenty of job loss to go around with potentially long-term ramifications for the economy, families, and the social fabric of the US.