The economic challenges of the many workers who are already struggling to make ends meet will likely be compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic-related recession. Self-Sufficiency Standard research on the impact of the Great Recession on income inadequacy found that workers in low wage occupations, as well as people of color and single mother households, were hit the hardest, with more of their households experiencing income inadequacy than before the recession, even when other indicators (such as the unemployment rate) had returned to pre-recession levels. This suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic related economic shutdown and associated economic downturn, will likely have a disproportionate impact on people of color and other marginalized populations. These populations will be especially vulnerable on several fronts:

  • First, many are in positions, such as food service, that have experienced high levels of job loss, and with states opening up, slower recovery of jobs in these sectors.
  • Second, many working in gig-economy jobs are self-employed or in family businesses, with little or no access to unemployment benefits or continued paychecks (such as the Paycheck Protection Act).
  • Third, many are essential workers (such as grocery store workers or health workers) who cannot work remotely, and thus experience threats to their health (or that of their family members) through increased risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus.