Black and Hispanic communities in America bear the brunt of the coronavirus crisis

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The pandemic leaves few people untouched, but the weakest demographic groups in the United States are bearing the brunt of the burden of job losses and front-line work, amid increased risk of infection and reduced savings.

According to a new report from the JPMorgan Chase Institute, average black and Hispanic families already generate less income than the average white family, but they also have a smaller reserve of liquid assets like savings and investments.

This leaves those demographics most vulnerable to aftershocks from the coronavirus crisis.

“As families face job losses and income uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this report shows that black and Hispanic families will be the first victims of this economic crisis,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

It also means that government programs to help the country weather the epidemic – including expanded unemployment insurance and stimulus payments – are especially important for black and Hispanic communities.

Apart from the coronavirus crisis, the report’s findings highlight the persistent racial gap in the US economy. And this inequality makes minorities more vulnerable to economic hardship during difficult times, including the current surge.

“Policy makers should take these findings into account to meet the needs of communities disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and the wider racial wealth gap,” said Darrick Hamilton, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University.

Black and Hispanic families earn between 71 and 74 cents for every dollar earned by the median white family, according to the JPMorgan report. But the racial gap between cash between the two is much larger, and that means these minority families have a much thinner cushion to fall back on to weather the storm of economic shocks.

For every dollar of liquid assets in a white family, the median black family is only 32 cents, while the median Hispanic family is 47 cents.

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