Several reports show that black Americans have already fallen victim to the destructive bite of COVID-19.
Today, the dilemma resurfaces. Some 38% of US households say they have faced serious financial problems in the past few months, a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Healthshows.
For Black and Latino households, more than 55% revealed serious financial problems. This is much higher than the 29% for white households. The results, reported by NPR, were based on a poll of 3,616 adults taken between early August and early September.
The shortage of savings is an important factor contributing to the uneven financial record of the pandemic.
“The racial wealth gap is real, and one of its most fundamental manifestations is not having cash,” says William Spriggsprofessor of economics at Howard University and chief economist of the AFL-CIO.
Nearly 19% of all households report losing all their savings during the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving them with nowhere to turn. It’s even worse for black households, as about 31% said they lost all those funds.
And asked if anyone in their household had had any serious issues in the past few months – like paying the mortgage or rent, making car payments, covering credit cards/loans/other debts, and paying for medical care – the figures were worrying. For example, 56% of black households reported having problems. This was the second highest percentage among the five racial groups who responded.
To boot, the recent expiration of federal unemployment benefits that gave millions of Americans a financial lifeline to make ends meet was a blow.
“All of that is gone,” Spriggs says. “So that’s, I think, the main reason why you’ve seen particular stress in Latino and black households — because without the unemployment check going up, without the stimulus checks still being there, those households simply don’t have the savings to endure and be resilient during downturns.