As many other urban areas, the San Francisco Bay Area faces unprecedented social and economic disruptions due to the spread of COVID-19. Our new research brief with Professor Don Mar and Ong & Associates examines the location, racial-ethnic composition, immigrant composition, and socioeconomic circumstances of workers in two sectors highly impacted by COVID-19 related closures: service workers in the hospitality industry and sales workers in the retail industries.
Workers in these sectors are more likely to earn low-wages, live in poverty, or identify as people of color – particularly Latinos/Latinas who are the ethnic majority group in the service and hospitality sectors. 51 % of predominantly Latino neighborhoods are characterized as “highest at-risk” with another 32% of Latino neighborhoods characterized as “high risk.” In addition, 48% of the poorest neighborhoods in the Bay Areas have the “highest-at- risk” share of workers.
With the historic levels of unemployment claims being file in the California, now is the time to consider near-and long-term policies that strengthen and support the economic basis of vulnerable communities. This brief offers a series of recommendations that fill the gap between proposed legislation at the federal level and the needs of vulnerable communities who are the most susceptible to the economic consequences of COVID-19. Understanding these workers’ social and economic realities leads to better targeted policy responses that protect vulnerable communities, including undocumented workers who are not eligible for most federal COVID-19 relief programs. Policymakers and elected officials have the opportunity to safeguard California’s status as the world’s 5th largest economy by providing tailored relief to vulnerable Californians and closing the gaps in care that exist under current federal stimulus programs.
See our brief series on COVID-19 here