The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has hit immigrant communities and people of color the hardest, impacting sectors like hospitality and leisure that predominantly employ low-wage, working class people, according to a report released by the progressive Fiscal Policy Institute.
At the same time, many low-wage workers were deemed essential and went to work during the worst of the pandemic earlier this year, leading to a disproportionate death toll among Black and Brown people.
The report comes as the recession from the pandemic has led to unemployment statewide in New York of more than 9%, and above 13% in New York City. Job gains stalled between September and October and a resurgence in the virus could make matters worse.
The organization is backing an excluded workers fund as a potential solution, which would provide aid to undocumented immigrants who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic as well as funding for schools and social service programs. This may be a tall order given New York state's own fiscal and push for aid from the federal government.
"There is not a direct measure of unemployment among undocumented workers, but looking at the industries in which undocumented immigrants gives us insight into the labor market they are facing," the report found. "On the one hand, undocumented workers are particularly concentrated both among essential workers in jobs in supermarkets, public transportation, delivery services, and health care, for example."
The report pointed to the 46% drop in employment in leisure and recreation as well as a 40% decrease in the accommodation and food service industries.
"This is also the sector where undocumented immigrants are most likely to be working," the report found. "Twenty percent of all undocumented immigrants working in New York State work in the leisure and hospitality industry, the largest single sector for employment of undocumented immigrants. Construction, the second-largest sector for undocumented immigrants, has also been hit hard by the recession."
The full report can be found here.