New Department of Labor statistics show racial disparities within unemployment and job loss

Massachusetts

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The unemployment rate is decreasing from a high of 14.8% in April of 2020 to now 6.7%. But statistics show job loss during the pandemic has unevenly impacted people of color.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that 140,000 jobs were lost in December 2020. The majority in hospitality industries. It’s the first drop in jobs since April 2020. But the losses weren’t equal among all races.

“There’s always been a disparity when it comes to the different services that the Black community has received,” Springfield City Councilor, Malo Brown told 22News.

Black unemployment peaked in April 2020 at 16.7%. It’s now at 9.9%. Comparatively, White unemployment peaked at 14.1% and is now at 6%.

Black and Brown Wall Street is a organization started in Springfield to help businesses thrive. Brown has supported their events and the Western Massachusetts Black Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s something as far as educating a lot of the Black and Brown people of the different resources out there in order for them to obtain the economics that they want,” Brown said.

The leisure and hospitality industry took the biggest hits during the pandemic. In Springfield, the industry was down by 34% in the last year. The industry, and specifically low wage jobs, disproportionally employ minorities.

But it’s not just large industries that has seen job loss. According to the Stanford Institute For Economic Policy Research, between February and April 2020 the number of Black small business owners dropped by 41%, the highest decline of any race group.

“I would ask everyone to come and buy Black, espeically during Black History Month. We have to spend our dollar in our community. Statistically and historically it shows that we’ll spend our money other ways but there’s certain communities it shows if you spend your dollar in that community it will grow it,” Brown continued.

According to the Associated Press, minority owned small businesses were last to receive government coronavirus relief loans. But Councilor Brown says “we will get through this.”

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