Black workers losing jobs at twice the rate of white workers during the pandemic, according to new Fortune data

June 2, 2020, 8:00 PM UTC

Protesters across the country have taken to the streets of American cities to demand justice for George Floyd, a black man who died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer. As protesters call attention to the nation’s uneven treatment of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement, the country is also in the midst of an unprecedented economic shock that is hitting communities of color harder than white Americans.

Black adults are twice as likely to have been laid off or furloughed as white adults, finds a Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll of 4,109 U.S. adults between May 20 and 26. Since the onset of the coronavirus outbreaks, 24% of black workers say they have lost their job compared with 20% of Hispanic workers, 19% of Asian workers, and 11% of white workers.

The coronavirus shutdowns were uneven. Businesses in the service and tourism industries—cruise lines, restaurants, retail stores, and nail salons—tended to be hit the hardest, and many of those rely heavily on nonwhite workers.

For instance, of the more than 50,000 people employed at Hilton before the crisis, 69% are people of color. So when the hotel chain furloughed tens of thousands of its workers, those groups were disproportionately impacted.

And it’s not just unequal job losses—pay cuts have also been unequally doled out. The Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll finds that while 28% of white workers got their hours or pay cut, that rose to 29% of Hispanic workers, 31% of black workers, and 37% of Asian workers.

And among black workers who have retained their jobs thus far, 56% are still worried about losing them. Meanwhile, that figure is 35% among white workers. The majority of Hispanic and Asian workers are also worried about losing their job, at 57% and 66%, respectively.

This uneven economic downturn has already manifested itself in the jobs reports. The official April unemployment rate stood at 14.7%. But among white workers the jobless rate was 14.2%, compared with 14.5% for Asians, 18.9% for Hispanics, and 16.7% among black workers. But that official jobless rate is through just mid-April. Since then, another 14.3 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefits. That will push the jobless rate even higher in May, and could further increase the racial unemployment gap.

*Methodology: The Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll was conducted among a national sample of 4,109 adults in the U.S. between May 20 and 26. This survey’s modeled error estimate is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The findings have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography.


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