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Work and the Coronavirus

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Helping people understand how COVID-19 affects work and employment by sharing insights and help from ILR's workplace experts.

Children Impacted Unequally by COVID-Related Job Losses

Photo of masked woman carrying a child by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

The impact of COVID-related unemployment has been felt among a large share of children, especially Latinx, Black and lower-income children, according to research co-authored by College of Human Ecology Professor Kelly Musick.

Collaborators on “The Unequal Impact of COVID-19 on Children’s Economic Vulnerability,” published in Econofact in July, include University of Minnesota and Cornell researchers Anna Bokun, Jessie Himmelstern, Wonjeong Jeong, Ann Meier and Rob Warren.

One in five U.S. children experienced the job loss of an adult in their household between February and April of 2020, the researchers said, and one in 12 experienced the job loss of all adult earners in their household.

The analysis also points to disparities by race, ethnicity and income, with higher shares of Latinx, Black and lower-income children losing all adult earners in their households.

Musick, department chair of Policy Analysis and Management, and her colleagues said delaying support for children, particularly those at greatest risk of economic vulnerability, will exacerbate the long-term implications of the pandemic on a generation of children.

Econofact’s summary of the research included these points:

  • There was pervasive experience among children with one or more adults in their households losing jobs following the March stay-at-home orders, but there are also significant differences across racial, ethnic and income groups.
  • Disparities were particularly stark among children experiencing job loss of all working adults in their household.
  • Latinx children were more likely to be in households that experienced any job loss, but they were relatively protected from job losses among all adult earners because they more often lived in households with multiple adults.
  • There were large geographic differences in the share of children who experienced job loss in their household.
  • There were mixed findings when the same group of children were followed an additional month, into May. To the extent data showed a recovery in employment, it was unequal across groups, exacerbating disparities and suggesting wider long-run gaps.

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