Economics in Brief: The Pandemic is Hitting Black and Latino Families Hard

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Economics in Brief: The Pandemic is Hitting Black and Latino Families Hard

woman holding a credit card and phone

More than half of Black and Latino Americans are struggling with “serious financial issues” during the pandemic, and one in five American households lost all their savings in the last 18 months. (Lyndon Stratford/iStockPhoto)

More than 55% of Black and Latino Families Have Serious Financial Struggles Tied to the Pandemic

A new poll found that more than 55% of Black and Latino households are struggling with serious financial issues, NPR reports. This number compares to the 29% of White households and 32% of Asian households that reported similar stress.

Despite other news outlets stating that Americans have been able to save in record numbers during the pandemic, this poll found that 19% of households lost all of their savings. For Black families, that statistic increases to 31%.

William Spriggs, a Howard economics professor, points to the lack of federal aid as the main reason why Latino and Black households are struggling in higher numbers.

“The racial wealth gap is real, and one of its most basic manifestations is not having liquid assets,” he says. “Without the boost to the unemployment check, without the stimulus checks still being there, these households simply don’t have the savings to endure and be resilient during downturns.”

Kaiser Workers In Hawaii Join the 30,000 Already on Strike

Nearly 2,000 Kaiser healthcare workers in Hawaii are joining a nationwide strike advocating for better wages and a stronger contract, KHON 2 reports.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months, but workers feel their concerns about short staffing and wages have not been adequately addressed. Kaiser’s most recent deal included a 2% wage increase contingent on the union’s approval of a two-tier wage system that could cut up to a third of wages for new hires. In response, 92% of union members present voted to go on strike.

And healthcare workers are not the only ones asking for stronger pay.

The Mercury News reports that Kaiser engineers, who maintain plumbing, electricity, and HVAC systems, have been on strike for weeks. The pharmacy guild has also been in negotiations with the company, though they claim Kaiser has engaged in “regressive bargaining” and “imposed unreasonable deadlines for contract ratification.”

However, in a statement provided to KHON 2, Arlene Peasnall, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Kaiser Permanente, called the company “one of the most labor-friendly organizations in the United States.” The challenge with adhering to workers’ demands, she adds, lies in “the increasingly unaffordable cost of health care. And the fact is, wages and benefits account for half of Kaiser Permanente’s operational cost.”

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii reports that these strikes are occurring as hospitals are overwhelmed with surgeries and other basic care that was put on pause during the pandemic. Kaiser is asking its members to refill their prescriptions now before the strike in mid-November causes serious backlogs to their system.

“At a time when we should be working together, Kaiser Permanente has recklessly made a proposal that will worsen staffing conditions,” the Alliance of Healthcare Unions said in a statement.

Factchecking CNN’s Misleading Milk Segment

CNN’s report on inflation is getting a lot of heat from other news outlets following their 5-minute segment on the Stotlers, a Texas family that purchases 12 gallons of milk a week.

The family claimed that milk prices had increased from $1.99 to $2.79, a stark 40% increase. However, the average price of milk has not been $1.99 in decades, Slate adds, with the Department of Agriculture stating that the lowest average price across 31 major cities was $2.52.

Vice News reports that milk prices have seen the lowest rate of inflation than any other goods, rising by .6% over the last year. And food prices have also not risen at the rate the Stotlers suggest, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding an average increase of 4.5%.

Nevertheless, outlets like Marketwatch noted some questioning the decision to discuss milk inflation instead of increased housing and healthcare costs.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter. The Bottom Line is made possible with support from Citi.

Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga is completing her degree in political science and journalism at Rutgers University, with plans to graduate in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate voices of underrepresented communities in her work.  

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Tags: covid-19unionslaboreconomics

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