Why Black Americans Are Exposing Themselves To Coronavirus For A Paycheck

Why Black Americans Are Exposing Themselves To Coronavirus For A Paycheck

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Black people are exposing themselves to coronavirus for a paycheck. Most brown and Black workers can’t work from home. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Bettie Douglas is 62 and still working at a McDonald’s restaurant in St. Louis despite the pandemic.

Why? Because the restaurant has remained open for takeout and she, like many other Black Americans, can not afford to miss work. Of course she is worried about contracting the coronavirus but being able to feed her family is her highest concern.

“I can’t worry and focus on that,” Douglas told Vice. “I can’t afford to. I have a family that I have to take care of. I have to focus on my electric not getting cut off. My water is not getting cut off. Having food to feed my child and having toiletries that we need.”

With her work hours cut, Douglas said she’s wondering how she will take care of her responsibilities.

“Bills are not going to be paid like they’re supposed to. I have less to buy food with, so I’m worried about that. I’ll probably have to visit pantries.”

Douglas is just one of the many Black workers who must continue to work. “Among the American workforce, just 16.2 percent of Hispanic workers and 19.7 percent of Black Americans are able to work from home, while about 30 percent of whites and 37 percent of Asian-Americans can,” Vice reported.

When looking at the working poor, Black workers will be most affected by the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black, and Hispanic workers are more than twice as likely to earn poverty-level wages compared to their white peers. 

“Roughly 8 percent of Black and Hispanic workers earn wages below poverty level, compared to just 4 percent of white workers. Women of color struggle in particular. Ten percent of Black women and 9 percent of Hispanic women are classified as the working poor, compared to 3.5 percent of white men,” Yahoo Finance reported.

More than 100 million Americans have to physically go into work, especially people in service fields. Less than 30 percent of Americans have jobs they can do from home, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 70: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. He talks about the failed leadership of Trump, Andrew Cuomo, CDC Director Robert Redfield, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and New York Mayor de Blasio.

Many workers also don’t receive sick pay. In fact, more than 32 million workers in American get no paid sick leave.

Among higher-wage earners, 92 percent receive paid sick time compared to their lower-income counterparts. Just 31 percent of workers with salaries in the bottom 10 percent have this benefit, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Paid sick leave also impacts some sectors more than others. just 48 percent of workers in leisure and hospitality have access to paid sick leave,” according to the Economic Policy Institute.