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Coronavirus job losses have hit people of color the hardest

Latino communities hit hard by pandemic

Millions of Americans from every racial background have seen their paychecks vanish due to coronavirus-related layoffs and business closures. But new research shows that the job losses have hit Hispanic and African-American families much harder than white households.

About 61% of Hispanics and 44% of African-Americans said they or someone in their household was laid off or had their wages cut last month, according to a Pew survey. That compares to 38% of whites who said they experienced the same impact. The Pew data jibes with similar findings showing a disproportionate financial impact on minorities, including a recent poll by the University of Chicago and the Associated Press.

Blacks and Hispanics also said the unprecedented wave of mass layoffs of the past two months have had a deeper effect on them because they don't have enough emergency savings to keep bills paid until the pandemic recedes, according to the Pew researchers. The median household income for white households was $67,937 in 2018, according to the latest available Census data, compared with $51,404 for Hispanic families and $41,511 for black households. 

"The vast majority of black and Hispanic adults without financial reserves also said they would not be able to cover their expenses for three months by borrowing money, using savings or selling assets," Pew researchers Abby Budiman, Mark Lopez and Lee Rainie wrote this week in a blog post about their data. 

The findings ring true for people of color who have lost their jobs in recent weeks. Amber Hogue of Indiana has been unemployed since March 28 after a transportation company she worked for eliminated her accounting job. Hogue, 37, said her African-American friends who work as accountants in Indiana and Virginia have all been laid off.

"It's putting people into depression because they can't pay their bills," Hogue told CBS MoneyWatch, adding that her brother has also been laid off. "We're all sitting at home." 

Coronavirus reveals racial health gap in U.S.

The Pew survey also found that 48% of African American and 44% of Hispanic respondents said they can't pay their April bills or can only make partial payments, compared to 26% of white respondents. The survey didn't poll people who identified themselves as Asian-American or other ethnicities.

African Americans are almost 14% of the U.S. population, the Census says, but they account for about 60% of the COVID-19 deaths in cities ranging from New York City and Chicago to Philadelphia and Milwaukee, according to a study from epidemiologists at four universities. 

A lack of employment and health insurance along with poor air quality in certain cities were some of the factors that created the COVID-19 disparity, researchers said.

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