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Covid Crushed Workers Earning Less Than $14 An Hour, Higher Paying Jobs Increased

Covid Crushed Workers Earning Less Than $14 An Hour, Higher Paying Jobs Increased

workers earning
Covid Crushed Workers Earning Less Than $14 An Hour, Higher Paying Jobs Increased. Photo: Gleisson JOAQUIM on Unsplash

The lowest-earning workers have borne the brunt of the recession, seen the steepest declines in employment and experienced the slowest recovery, according to research economists at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The decrease in employment for the lowest wage workers was not confined to a few sectors. It was widespread throughout the economy, researchers said in a paper entitled, “The K-Shaped Recovery: Examining the Diverging Fortunes of Workers in the Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic using Business and Household Survey Microdata.”

In a K-shaped economy, growth continues but it’s uneven, split between sectors and income groups. It favors the top 1 percent of earners who are disproportionately vested in stocks and mutual funds while the rest of the population suffers in the real economy.

A year after covid-19 shut down all semblance of normal life, vaccinations are scaling up, schools are going back to in-person classes and the economy is improving. But it’s improving unevenly, and for the lowest wage earners, inequality is getting worse, New York Times reported.

Millions of people are still out of work, and it’s worst for Black women. Significantly fewer Black women and women of color are working now than any other demographic since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest government data.


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The decline in service, leisure and hospitality jobs during this recession has affected Black women disproportionately, according to Kathryn Edwards, an economist at the RAND Corporation.

There are almost 10 percent fewer employed Black women than a year ago, compared to 5 percent fewer employed white men.

Many people who lost jobs earned low wages, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute research group. Workers in the lowest quarter of earners lost almost 8 million jobs from 2019 to 2020, while the highest wage earners gained jobs.

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In sectors most susceptible to employment losses during the
pandemic, the median hourly wage of workers was $15.00, compared to $21.50 for workers in other sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Recessions put pressure on the cracks in our economy that already existed, Edwards told New York Times. “The shock is that there’s a pandemic and we have to shut down, but that doesn’t happen out of context, what was already going on in our economy,” she said.

Read more: What Is A K-Shaped Recovery And How Does It Favor Elites?

Read more: 8 White Senate Democrats Vote Against Raising Federal Minimum Wage To $15: Joe Manchin, Krysten Sinema, More