COVID-19’s Disproportional Impact on Asian American Employment

A recent report published by UCLA finds that Asian Americans workers have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.   As shown above in the graph above, Asian American unemployment rates and jobless rates were at one point lower than that of whites, but have climbed above those of whites during the pandemic.  The situation is pretty bad for all Americans, but the study points out that heavy Asian American employment in hospitality, retail, and leisure makes the problem worse.

An additional factor not discussed in detail in the report is income inequality within the broad category of “Asian American.”  Of all American racial groups, Asian Americans have the greatest amount of income inequality.  You can see some of this in the graph on the right, which shows how Asian American unemployment varies between U.S. states with large Asian American populations.  California, with a large population of well-paid Asian American tech workers (as well as lower paid Asian American workers), has a lower Asian American unemployment rate compared to whites.  New York, which has a high Asian American poverty rate and where Asian Americans ride buses in an attempt to earn money, shows a disproportionate effect on on Asian Americans.  The numbers in Hawaii shows that states reliance on tourism, which once employed many Asian Americans.

This report was a collaboration between UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and Ong & Associates.

(graphic credits:  UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and Ong & Associates.)


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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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