Matty-Sways

Hispanics, Blacks, teenagers and high-school dropouts were hit the hardest in the worst year of job loss since 1939.

In abysmal year that was 2020, the economy shed a net 9.37 million jobs (only 5.05 million jobs were lost in 2009). Industry wise hotels, restaurants and related industries were hit the hardest. Unemployment rates among those groups shot up in April then again in December when the triggered another big increase in joblessness. December’s 140,000 drop in jobs was the first since April. However, December’s losses were concentrated in the leisure and hospitality industries, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter.

“It’s a slightly different situation where the pain is far more concentrated among those teenage workers and minorities in restaurants and bars and other face-to-face service industries,” Ms. Pollak said.

In December, the unemployment rate for Hispanics rose to 9.3% from 8.4% a month earlier (Hispanics accounted for about 18% of all workers and 28% of food-preparation workers in 2019).

Prior to the pandemic in late March and April, the Black unemployment rate was at 6% (February 2020). It nearly tripled to 16.7% in May.

A surge in coronavirus cases across the country triggered 372,000 job cuts at restaurants and bars in December as many states and localities tightened restrictions.

Restaurant roles are “sort of a natural home for young workers,” Ms. Pollak said. “It’s their first rung on the ladder really into employment.”

In a bit of good news, 3 million Americans last month said their layoff was temporary (up from 2.8 million in November).

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