Loss of Work and Income Insecurity by Race and Ethnicity

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected households across New Jersey. For several weeks in 2020, weekly Unemployment Insurance claims topped 100,000, and the unemployment rate jumped to 16.6%. Insecurity about a household member’s job translates into insecurity about paying for rent or mortgage, utilities, child care, education, and food for the entire household. A 2018 Heldrich Center for Workforce Development report highlighted how some households rely on wages as their primary source of income more than others. This dependency on wages over other sources of income leads to a greater financial shock and slower recovery for those who lose their jobs.

The Heldrich Center is launching a new research series titled, Wages and Wealth in the Context of COVID-19. The new series explores the impact of the pandemic on New Jersey workers and households by different demographics. The first brief in the series, Loss of Work and Income Insecurity by Race and Ethnicity, by Meghna Hari and Stephanie Holcomb, focuses on differences in loss of income and employment by race and ethnicity to better understand how those in New Jersey are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings in the brief include:

> Non-white households in New Jersey are more dependent on wages as a source of income than white households.

> The share of non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic households that experienced work loss is higher than the share of non-Hispanic white households reported to experience work loss.

> A higher share of Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black households expected imminent loss of income as compared to non-Hispanic white households.

Meghna Hari is a Research Project Manager and Stephanie Holcomb is a Research Project Coordinator, both at the Heldrich Center.

Founded in 1997, the Heldrich Center is devoted to transforming the workforce development system at the local, state, and federal levels.