Pandemic: Financial Hardship Felt Most By Communities of Color

Survey: Black, Latinx, and Native American communities hit hardest. Four in ten Latinx, Black, and Native American households used up savings.
Posted at 7:46 PM, Sep 16, 2020

The same communities that have been hit hardest medically by COVID-19 could also be hit hardest financially during this pandemic. A newstudyfrom NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard finds that four in ten Latinx, Black, and Native American households report using up all or most of their savings. 

Additionally, 72% of Latinos, 60% of Black Americans, and 55% of Native Americansreport serious financial problems during the pandemic. The survey polled about 3,500 adults between July 1st and August 3rd when the $600 dollar a week unemployment checks were still in place. Six in ten Latinx households say they have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or had wages or hours reduced since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

"We need to make sure that unemployment checks continue and continue at a higher rate," says the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Richard Besser, who was the former CDC director, says it's not just unemployment assistance but eviction protections are needed as well. 

"When you think about health and what goes into a person's ability to lead a healthy life. Income finance turns out to be an incredibly important driver in the households that we surveyed," Besser says. 

From paying bills and rent to affording basics like food and health care, financial strains can weigh heavily on a person's emotional and physical well being. 

"If you have a very serious financial problem, your household falls apart, whether or not you're cured or not. You could lose your housing. You can't follow through with your medication," says Dr. Robert Blendon, Public Health and Political Analyst at Harvard University. 

The study finds children are also hard hit, especially when it comes to their education. About half of Native Americans report serious problems with internet connections at home. 

"We did not think when you hear the slogan, we're all in this together, the numbers would be staggering," says Dr. Blendon.