MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New research from the University of Minnesota is shedding more light on how the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened inequalities among the state’s workforce.
The research was conducted by the Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy at the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. According to its findings, women and communities of color have borne both the brunt of essential work and layoffs during the pandemic.
Women, particularly women of color, face a “dual vulnerability” during the pandemic. That’s because they’re disproportionately employed at high-risk essential health care, retail and service jobs. White and Asian men dominate lower-risk essential jobs.
Pandemic-related layoffs have also disproportionately affected women, Native Americans and Blacks, according to the report.
Additionally, the research found that stimulus checks and unemployment insurance could not be accessed by many who needed the support, including undocumented workers and people experiencing homelessness.
“While income is crucial, safety and child care are also major concerns for workers and their families, and these received less attention from both the state and federal governments,” said Professor Christina Ewig, the Center’s faculty director, who led the research team. “And because women are concentrated among essential workers and spend more time on child care at home, the lack of response in these areas has magnified gender inequalities during the pandemic.”
The report is calling for a strengthening of the social safety net for all Minnesotans.
“The report recommends swift action by policymakers to ensure that all essential workers have adequate PPE, to properly translate and disseminate information about the virus and emergency financial supports to all communities, and to make undocumented workers eligible for future relief programs. Longer term, the pandemic is an urgent call to build resilience by reforming state and federal policy priorities,” the report said.