Study shows Hispanic, African-American people hit hardest by unemployment amid pandemic

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Jackie Murray is a proud tour guide with A Tour of Possibilities, an African American history tour through Memphis. Today, she’s the only person in the company van that is usually full of eager customers.

“The tourism industry has been hit really hard,” Murray said. ” No bookings being made.”

No bookings means Murray is unemployed.

“It’s been hard because I don’t know what tomorrow brings,” Murray said.

While millions of Americans have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, a new Pew research study shows that Hispanic Americans have been hit the hardest. The study says 61% of Hispanic Americans and 44% of African Americans reported that either they or someone in their family experienced job or wage loss due to COVID-19.

“The virus itself attacks everyone equally in the exact same way, but the consequences have not been felt equally,” said Elena Delavega, an associate professor of social work at the University of Memphis.

Delavega says existing disparities are now magnified.

“People with high, high levels of education, who are able to do a lot of work through computers, those jobs have been maintained,” Delavega said.

Some of the first jobs to go were in the hospitality industry. Delavega says the majority of those working in the hospitality industry are Hispanic and African American.

Research also found that many of the people who lost their jobs did not have any savings as a backup.

Study shows Hispanic, African-American people hit hardest by unemployment amid pandemic

“This is not the time to say some folks are undocumented, yes, no, whose going to do these jobs?” said Mauricio Calvo, executive director of Latino Memphis. “We recognize that we need everybody to be working, and we also recognize that we’re all equally vulnerable and that if one of us gets sick, somebody else gets sick and if one of us is hurting financially the truth is that we’re all hurting financially.”

The findings were from an April study and were up from numbers shared in March.

“We’ll get through this,” Murray said, “we’re going to get through this, but we have to work together.”