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People of color face disproportionate pandemic-related financial stress

Blacks and Latinos are more worried than whites about losing and keeping their jobs, paying for housing, student-loan debt and child care.
Image: A woman wearing a protective face mask pushes a cart by a recycling center as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the borough of Brooklyn in New York
A woman wearing a protective mask pushes a cart by a recycling center as the spread of Covid-19 continues, in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 13, 2020.Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

This story originally ran on CNBC.

The coronavirus pandemic is causing financial stress and anxiety for many Americans, yet it is people of color who are feeling it the most, according to an analysis of the American Staffing Association’s latest survey on the workforce.

“The pandemic has disproportionately affected lower-income groups, especially those in occupations that do not lend themselves to remote work,” said the group’s CEO, Richard Wahlquist.

Hispanics/Latinos and Blacks are more worried than whites about their employment situation, such as finding a new job, having the necessary skills to land a job, the need to transition to a new career or role, and losing a job.

They are also disproportionately concerned about their financial situation, including paying for housing, student-loan debt and child care.

For instance, 65 percent of Hispanics/Latinos and 58 percent of Blacks are worried about being able to pay their rent or mortgage, the analysis found. Of those who identify as white, 44 percent said they are concerned. Additionally, 53 percent of Blacks and 51 percent of Latinos/Hispanics are concerned about paying for child care, compared to 34 percent of whites.

When it comes to work-related concerns, finding a job topped the list for Hispanic/Latinos, at 58 percent, compared to Blacks at 54 percent and whites at 45 percent. Needing new skills to land a new job was the biggest worry for Blacks, at 56 percent. Sixty-two percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of whites were concerned.

The survey of 2,065 U.S. adults aged 18 and older was conducted online by The Harris Poll June 16-18, 2020. Results were weighted on age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, household income and size, marital status and geographic region when necessary to align with the proportions of the U.S. population. They were also adjusted for differences between online and offline populations.

“While our data doesn’t illuminate the drivers, it’s clear that demographic data from [the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics] and Census underscore long standing disparities in income, education and occupational attainment based on race,” Wahlquist.

September’s unemployment numbers bear that out. While the overall unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, whites had a 7 percent rate, Blacks were at 12.1 percent and Hispanics had a 10.3 percent unemployment rate.

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These days, people of color are feeling that the odds are not stacked in their favor, said certified financial planner Lauryn Williams, a four-time Olympian and founder of Dallas-based Worth Winning, which offers virtual financial services.

“The narrative is very much one of inequality and injustice right now,” said Williams, a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.

“Some people of color are experiencing self doubt and have very little confidence to apply for jobs that they are not 100 percent qualified for,” she added. “They do not have resources such as the internet to take advantage of free resources to gain new skills.”

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Help each other

When it comes to finances, it’s important now more than ever that people work together to pool resources and make sure that needs are met, Williams said.

“Stress shopping and splurges can be curbed by asking yourself, ‘Who in my circle needs my help and how can I make my dollars stretch further?’” she said.

Also, take inventory of what you have and see what you can sell to create cash.

Hiring is happening

Jobs are out there, said Wahlquist.

There are more than 6 million job openings in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The staffing industry is seeing hiring in new and in-demand jobs as a result of the pandemic,” he said.

That includes roles in IT, customer service, delivery and financial services. Contract tracers and social distance monitors have also emerged as a result of Covid-19.

Wahlquist hopes the ASA’s findings spark more research into the reasons behind greater worry among people of color.

“We hope these findings lead to more support for these groups to help alleviate some of these financial and work worries for the long term — not just during the current pandemic-caused economic recession,” he said.

Disclosure: Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow. is a financial wellness and education initiative from CNBC and Acorns, the micro-investing app. NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.