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February 15, 2022

Macro view: Native Americans experience high levels of unemployment

According to the first Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) data on Native Americans, the US labour market is leaving indigenous people behind with an unemployment rate as high as 11.1% in January.

David Wessel

David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Centre on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, shared an article on the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) having published its first monthly data on American Indians and Alaska Natives unemployment rate in an effort to ensure an inclusive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and found the picture to be stark.

As against the BLS jobs report that revealed that the US economy added 470,000 jobs in January and 700,000 more jobs at the end of 2021, and the country’s topline adjusted unemployment rate being 4.4% in January, Native Americans reported an unemployment rate as high as 11.1% at the end of two years into the recovery from the virus crisis.

The data further suggested that Native Americans had a higher unemployment rate than other racial groups before the pandemic, with a 7.5% unemployment rate in February 2020. However, as the pandemic spread across the country, the Native American unemployment rate jumped to an astounding 28.6%, equalling the national unemployment levels during the 1930s Great Depression.

Aaron Sojourner

Aaron Sojourner, economist and associate professor of economics at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, retweeted an article shared by Worksafe, a California-based non-profit, on the unequal toll of the Covid-19 pandemic on American workers. Economists believe that workers with low incomes in the country were more likely to have reported missing a week of work compared to those earning $100,000 or more.

The emergence of the Omicron variant in the US led to record-high cases, hospitalisations among the younger age groups, leading to widespread absences of workers from their jobs and societal disruptions, such as the lack of emergency and transit services as workers called out sick or caring for those who were sick.

The US Household Pulse Survey (HPS) data revealed stark disproportions in Covid-19-related outcomes by income or occupation. For instance, among all working-aged Americans, those with 2019 household incomes less than $25,000 were 3.5 times as likely to be reported missing from work for an entire week, primarily due to being sick with Covid-19 symptoms or caring for someone with Covid-19 symptoms, compared to those workers who were earning $100,000 or more.

Miguel Faria e Castro

Miguel Faria e Castro, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and a lecturer at the Washington University in St. Louis, retweeted a chart on real wage growth by wage quartile two years prior to the pandemic and after in the US, shared by Jason Furman, economist and professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

According to the Atlanta Fed wage tracker, which is based on data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the BLS, Furman stated that the bottom quartile witnesses real wage gains between the two years of the pandemic, that is between 2020 and 2022, though smaller than the pre-pandemic trends between 2018 and 2020. Meanwhile, others’ wages were seen to be falling behind prices.

https://twitter.com/mfariacastro/status/1491810453999300608

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