Unemployment Rates During Covid: Race, Blacks, Hispanics, Gender, & Industry

Updated:August 4, 2020

Unemployment benefits have been claimed by over 40 million US citizens during the last 10 weeks – after the Great Depression, this is the highest number of jobless people that America has seen. In this articles, we will discuss the current Unemployment Rates by race, among blacks and Hispanics, gender, and industries.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an economic impact all over the world; almost every industry has been hit, leaving an unprecedented number of people without any income and unable to bear their expenses.


Below are some key figures that highlight the huge number of unemployed people, as well as the shattering impact the crisis has had on the economy.


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1. The national unemployment rate: 14.7%

At the start of each month, the latest national unemployment rate is released by the Department of Labor. In the month of May, we saw the release of April’s figures which showed 14.7% unemployment; a steep rise compared to 4.4% unemployment in March. Even though the process of reopening has begun in a number of states, only those claims that were filed before the mid of April are represented in these figures. Since then, millions of more claims have come in, and until figures of May are released in June, the effect on the unemployment rate will not be known.

2. The Hispanic and Black unemployment rates: 18.9% and 16.7%

It is well-known by economists that economic recessions are highly vulnerable times for Hispanic and Black Americans. Even though they have jobs that fall under the essential category, the economic crisis during Covid-19 has not been different for them. The rate of unemployment for Black Americans is twice as much as White Americans; and Hispanic unemployment numbers aren’t too far away either. Experts say segregation of jobs drives Hispanic and Black workers into industries that pay less, such as the hospitality industry that offers close to no benefits for employees and has been strongly affected by the pandemic.

3. Percentage of female unemployed Americans: 55%

Although women constitute a smaller percentage of working individuals, they are slightly in majority when looking at the stats of people that lost their jobs over the past few months. A report released by the Department of Labor in early May shows that close to 11.5 million women were reported to have lost their jobs; this is slightly higher than the 11 million men who were left jobless. These numbers are not surprising seeing that the industries that were hit the hardest due to the lockdown were education and healthcare, hospitality and leisure. These are all industries that have more female employees than men.

4. The hospitality and leisure unemployment rate: 39.8%

Figures from the Department of Labor last month showed that the industry that was hit the hardest by this economic crisis is the hospitality and leisure industry. Nearly 4.8 million workers have been rendered jobless, which is the highest number of any industry.

5. State with the highest unemployment rate: Nevada

Nevada is the hardest-hit state with an unemployment rate of 28.2%; this implies that in the state of 3 million, 1 in 4 people was unemployed in the month of April. Nevada’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, which made $67.6 billion in 2018. Nevada is followed by Michigan and Hawaii with 22.7% and 22.3% unemployment rates, respectively.

6. Average amount of unemployment insurance benefit: Around $980

Before the global pandemic, the average amount of an unemployment check was around $380. However, this amount varies since each state has its own rules and regulations when it comes to unemployment and gets to set the amount themselves. In some states the amount given out is half or more of the person’s earnings, whereas in other places the amount can be as low as one fifth of their paycheck. In order to cover this huge difference in amounts, everyone that is entitled for unemployment benefits is given an additional $600 weekly, right up till July end. This money was set aside by Congress in March as part of the huge coronavirus stimulus package. This additional amount means that a lot of people are making much more than they made even while working, and unfortunately there are some that are still finding it hard to even make ends meet.

7. Highest number of unemployment claims in one week: 6.6 million

6.6 million unemployment claims were filed by US citizens starting 29 March and ending 4 April; this number is truly staggering and gives us a realistic depiction of the crisis.

8. Number of food insecure households: 1 out of 5

At the end of April, Brookings Institution carried out an analysis that showed 1 out of 5 households in America were food insecure. Hundreds of thousands of families are finding it hard to buy groceries and this has resulted in shortage at food banks due to high demand. This analysis showed that families with children are in an even worse situation: 2 out of 5 households that had mothers and children younger than 12 years of age are food insecure.

9. Number of unemployed gig workers: Above 6.1 million

A federal program was included by Congress in their newest stimulus package; this allowed contractors and workers that were self-employed to apply for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor’s unemployment report from last week shows that 6.1 million US citizens that fall under the category of self-employment had applied for and were receiving this benefit.

10. Percentage of unemployed low-wage workers: 40%

Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, put forward some alarming stats on 13 May that were gained via a Fed survey. These stats showed that during the month of March, 40% of households earning less than $40,000 annually lost their jobs. Powell said that it was very hard to put in words how painful it was to see this sort of economic misfortune.

Brad Nakase, Attorney


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