Race and gender major factor in COVID-19 recovery inequality amongst the unemployed


(WWLP) – Race and gender have been identified as substantial barriers of inequality in the recovery from COVID-19 according to Pioneer Valley Data Dashboard.

Citing the number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims, which initially soared for workers of all races and ethnicities, the Pioneer Valley Data Dashboard reports that the gap between white workers and Black and Latinx workers grew in the two months between the end of April and the end of June, 2020. Additionally, as claims for white workers steadily declined, Black and Latinx claims spiked. Continuing UI claims among Black workers soared 701% at the peak, among Hispanic or Latino workers they grew 639%, and among white workers, claims grew 597%.

Continuing in this trend of reported inequality is the gap in claims based on gender. Female claims are reported as climbing 931% compared with an increase of only 425% among male UI claims.

“It is important for the future of our region to understand how we were impacted, who was impacted, and to track the trends as we recover,” noted Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Kimberly H. Robinson. “The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is proud to collaborate with our regional partners to provide this ongoing data, which should serve as a north star for all of us in government pursuing the most inclusive and equitable COVID-19 recovery possible here in our Valley.”

Additional information on workforce recovery can be found on the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s website.

Other findings from this collection of data include:

  • Throughout the pandemic, Hampden County has consistently had one of the highest unemployment rates among Massachusetts Counties, ranking in the top three for ten of the last thirteen months. Over the past 18 months, the monthly unemployment rate for Hampden County has averaged 1.4x’s the rate for Franklin County, and 1.5x’s the rate for Hampshire County. 
  • As pandemic shut-downs took effect, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate went from among the lowest in the country prior to the pandemic, 2.7%, to 9th highest, 16.4%. This was a 6-fold increase between March 2020 and April 2020.

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