In this policy brief, authors Rogelio Sáenz and Corey Sparks discuss the wide variations in unemployment and the level of job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation’s demographic groups that have historically suffered disparities in the workforce, including persons of color, women, and immigrants. It is particularly unfortunate that the calamity of the pandemic comes on the heels of major improvements in job prospects that these groups made over the last decade, as the workforce emerged from the Great Recession.

The benefits associated with the CARES Act of March 2020 expired in July, leaving tens of millions of unemployed people in dire straits. Implications of the inequality in both joblessness and job recovery will likely have far-reaching effects for other aspects of life. Some obvious implications of prolonged joblessness related to COVID-19 are potential spikes in defaults on mortgages and rent payments, especially as rent assistance programs phase out of operation. Other implications of joblessness are food insecurity.

As people of color continue to bear the brunt of the ravage of the pandemic, it exposes profound racial divides in this country that policymakers will need to address with an equity lens.


Carsey School of Public Policy

Publication Date

Summer 8-11-2020


National Issue Brief No. 150


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy

Document Type



Copyright 2020. Carsey School of Public Policy. These materials may be used for the purposes of research, teaching, and private study. For all other uses, contact the copyright holder





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