BWC Consulting

April 2020

Economic harm caused by COVID-19 pandemic likely not felt equally across communities

Economic downturns hit communities of color particularly hard and this reality is likely to play out amid, and in the wake of, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For communities of color, the unemployment rate is persistently higher than the national and White average, respectively. At the height of the Great Recession, the peak Black unemployment rate was nearly 70% higher than the national average and 83% higher than the White unemployment rate. For the Hispanic/Latino community, unemployment was 30% and 41% higher than the national average and White rate, respectively.

Even with the national unemployment rate near historic lows prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the story remains the same regarding unemployment rates for communities of color – particularly the Black community.


Source: FRED Economic Data, St. Louis Federal Reserve, Unemployment Rate, Seasonally-adj, by Race, 2009 – 2020.

The economic harm caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive job loss across the country. Around 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in last four weeks, a historic reality that poses increasingly harmful long-term implications the longer this pandemic persists. History tells us that the impact of massive unemployment will disproportionately harm communities of color in the short- and long-term. With this understanding, efforts undertaken at the federal, state, and local levels must be deliberate in ensuring that relief efforts – e.g. public policy, stimulus aid, etc. – reach communities of color to help build more resilient communities that can survive and thrive.

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