(Albany, NY) — The holiday season is beginning in our state as never before with a second COVID wave bearing down on the health and financial stability of New Yorkers. While the COVID-19 is a threat to us all, immigrants and people of color are by far hit the hardest. And undocumented immigrants may be hit harder still since they are concentrated in several of the industries that have seen the biggest employment decline.
“New Yorkers across the board are struggling to stay healthy, educate our children, and deal with financial insecurity of the COVID pandemic. But the hardest hit of all are the members of our communities who have the least to fall back on,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative. “In the midst of an unprecedented crisis, New York should do more to close the gaping holes in supports that help people get through hard times.”
Looking at our state’s unemployment data by race shows a striking difference in the rates for white, Black, Latinx, and Asians (the data for Asians also includes people identifying as more than one race, or another race). For white New Yorkers, in the third quarter of 2020 the unemployment rate was 10 percent, for Black New Yorkers it was 13 percent, and for Asian New Yorkers it was 16 percent. For Latinx New Yorkers the rate was 19 percent— nearly double the rate for whites.
There is good reason to think that undocumented immigrants in New York have been most impacted by job loss, most at risk as “essential workers,” and at the same time are excluded from aid other New Yorkers get because they are ineligible for state unemployment insurance, federal assistance, and other supports available to workers during hard times.
Undocumented immigrants are concentrated in the industries that have seen the largest job loss, such as restaurants and hotels, and they are also concentrated as essential workers in jobs in supermarkets, public transportation, delivery services, and health care. Where undocumented immigrants are far less likely to work is in the jobs that have continued relatively undisturbed through this recession because they can be done from home.
“Our state’s economy is fueled by all our residents, so ensuring that everyone has the means to purchase basic necessities in their local communities’ speeds recovery statewide,” said Jonas Shaende, Chief Economist. “A segmented recovery that limits growth to only certain sectors means a longer and slower recovery, which affects all New Yorkers.”
- Pass the New York State Excluded Workers Fund to provide weekly payments to people who are unemployed but are excluded from the state’s unemployment insurance system.
- Fully fund health care, schools, and other urgently needed government services rather than cutting back in the name of budget austerity.
- Ensure that those people who are working but not able to work from home have the personal protective equipment they need to keep as safe as possible.
- Remove the federal change to the “public charge” rule, which has created a chilling effect that stands in the way of immigrants and their families getting public services for which they are eligible.
- Make any federal funds coming to the states flexible enough to allow our state to include all New Yorkers in aid.
The Fiscal Policy Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of all. FPI’s Immigration Research Initiative looks at immigration issues in New York State, and around the country.