The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, and the unemployment rate for African American workers has jumped to 16.7%, the highest rate since 2010.
According to the New York Times, the unemployment rate for Hispanic or Latino workers jumped to 18.9%. The rate for the country as a whole has risen from less than 4% in February to 14.7% in April.
In March, analysts were reporting that the coronavirus pandemic would hit African Americans and Latinos harder than any other race. Those predictions have become fact.
Job gains among African Americans and Latinos was considered a bright spot before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. Even President Trump consistently used the number as an answer to why minorities should support him.
“We were hearing from a minority low- and moderate-income and minority communities that this was the best labor market they’d seen in their lifetime,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said during an April 29 news conference. “It is heartbreaking, frankly, to see that all threatened now.”
The report is also a staggering reminder that the recovery from the coronavirus will not be quick or easy.
The numbers could hurt President Trump’s chances at reelection. While Trump continues to praise himself and his administration for its response to the coronavirus, many feel differently. Last Friday, Trump kept the same positive tone.
“Those jobs will all be back and they’ll be back very soon,” Trump told reporters during a press briefing, “and next year we’re going to have a phenomenal year.”
However, more Americans are feeling the pain of limited funds and potentially risking their lives to put food on the table.
“Our economy is on life support now,” Erica Groshen, a former commissioner of the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics told Reuters . “We will be testing the waters in the next few months to see if it can emerge safely from our policy-induced coma.”
According to MarketWatch, the actual numbers could be worse. States are just beginning to report gig workers, freelance writers, and independent contractors. These workers were previously unqualified for unemployment benefits, but an emergency relief law passed last month changed eligibility standards.
A series of surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center back up the job loss number for African Americans and Hispanics. Nearly 61% of Hispanic Americans and 44% of African Americans said in April that they or someone in their household experienced a job or wage loss due to the coronavirus pandemic.