Today, Color Of Change, National Employment Law Project, the TIME’S UP Foundation Impact Lab, and the Worker Institute at Cornell ILR released results from new survey research showing deep racial, gender, and economic disparities in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data point to immediate worker needs and long-standing structural inequities that policymakers and employers must address.
“The outcomes workers are facing as a result of the pandemic are because of deeply embedded racism and sexism in the labor market and beyond — factors which are not new, but have been amplified over the course of this crisis,” said report co-author Dr. Rakeen Mabud, Director of Research and Strategy at TIME’S UP Foundation. “We stand at a tipping point to make our nation better, stronger, and more equal, but only if policymakers do not repeat the mistakes of the past.”
The national survey, which was conducted in late 2020 and oversampled Black and Latinx respondents, examines outcomes across overlapping determinants of worker wellbeing and power, including measures related to economic security, health and safety, and agency and voice in the workplace and beyond.
“While our challenges may seem unprecedented, the reality of today’s economy is all too familiar: women, Black and brown people, and those at the intersection are getting left behind by their employers, our government and by the healthcare system as a whole,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change. “As Biden and Congress steer our nation through this crisis with the latest proposed package, this research shows that leaders in government must pay particular attention to marginalized communities. Funneling funds through big banks and corporate bailouts — schemes that leave out Black and brown workers — does not cut it. We need immediate, direct relief.”
The results demonstrate the profound and often compounding challenges that working people in the United States – particularly Black and Latinx workers, women workers, and those who are underpaid – are navigating in the workplace and beyond.
Some key findings:
- Employers and government agencies are denying workers, and Black workers in particular, access to critical unemployment supports. Thirty-four percent of Black workers, 26% of Latinx workers, and 14% of white workers who applied for unemployment assistance were denied it.
- Working women (17%) were more likely than working men (12%) to report that their household had trouble paying bills before the pandemic began, and a larger share of women (45%) than men (38%) reported increased challenges covering household expenses since then.
- Black and Latinx workers are most concerned about employer retaliation for speaking up about unsafe workplace conditions. Thirty-four percent of Black workers and 25% of Latinx workers reported concerns about employer retaliation, compared to 19% of white workers.
- Almost half of Black workers (48%), nearly a third of Latinx workers (29%), and many Asian workers (15%) fear receiving substandard health care due to their race if they become seriously ill, compared to 4% of white workers.
- Support for Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements transcends race, gender, and socioeconomic identity. More than half of men (61%) and women (68%) expressed support for #metoo, and 58% and 64% of men and women support Black Lives Matter.
- Sixty-two percent and 61% of non-union Black and Asian workers, respectively, said that they would definitely or probably support a union at their job, compared to 42% of white workers and 44% of Latinx workers. However, union membership stands at 8% to 12% across these groups, woefully out of step with these levels of support.
“The survey results speak to the enormous challenges people have experienced in healthcare institutions, voting systems, and the world of work. They also point to a broad-based desire for voice at work and support for movements advancing racial and gender justice,” said report co-author Sanjay Pinto, Fellow at the Worker Institute at Cornell. “We need responses that confront racial, gender, and economic disparities across different systems, both through policy and the power of collective action.”
This group of partners will remain focused on worker wellbeing and power through the pandemic and its aftermath, working with worker-led organizations and policymakers to support cross-cutting, equity-focused interventions that advance a just recovery: one that supports lasting security, safety, and agency in the workplace and beyond.
“The Just Recovery Survey offers both sobering and hopeful new indicators measuring the impact of the pandemic and economic crisis on working people, and provides new insight into the particular challenges confronting Black, Latinx, women, and low-paid workers, and those in frontline occupations,” said report co-author Maya Pinto, senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “Results underscore the urgent need for policymakers and employers to support and implement the policies workers need and demand, to build worker power and ensure health and economic security for all.”
Read the complete survey findings at bit.ly/justrecoverysurvey
This blog originally appeared at NELP on February 3, 2021. Reprinted with permission.
About Color Of Change
Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.
About National Employment Law Project
The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting underpaid and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org. Follow NELP on Twitter at @NelpNews.
About TIME’S UP Foundation
The TIME’S UP Foundation insists upon safe, fair, and dignified work for all by changing culture, companies, and laws. We enable more people to seek justice through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. We pioneer innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace through the TIME’S UP Impact Lab. And we reshape key industries from within so they serve as a model for all industries. The TIME’S UP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
About the Worker Institute at Cornell
The Worker Institute at Cornell works to advance worker rights and collective representation through research, education, and training in conjunction with labor and social justice movements. We seek innovative solutions to problems faced by working people in our workplaces and economy today.