Home » Blog » Recovery for Whom? A Rosy Picture for the Economy Not So Rosy After All.

Recovery for Whom? A Rosy Picture for the Economy Not So Rosy After All.

By Noreen Sugure, Director of Research, Latino Policy Forum

The news this week mentioned that the country’s economy grew at the slower rate than expected but apparently at the fastest pace since last fall. Furthermore, the National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-profit group that studies economic activity and economic growth and is best known for providing “start” and “end” dates for recessions, said the “pandemic recession” lasted only two months and was the shortest on record.

In short, this supposedly means that the country has economically recovered from COVID.

But is the “recovery” a recovery for all? The short answer is a resounding no, and we need look no further than the Latino community to see why the answer is a big nope.

In 2019 the Latino unemployment rate was 4.3 percent; by June of 2020 it was 27.1 percent; and in June 2021 it was 13.2 percent. While it went down this year compared to last year, today the Latino unemployment rate is a whopping 207 percent higher than it was in 2019. At the same time that Latinos—who had among the highest rates of labor force participation—were losing jobs, they saw a cascading set of crises hit their families and friends and the rest of the community. Those growing crises included housing and nutritional insecurities, and a lack of access to healthcare services.

Prior to the pandemic, growth in new homeownership was projected to be driven by the Latino population. Instead, Latinos faced pandemic-induced foreclosures and evictions. With the moratoriums on those actions expiring, Latinos could be facing unprecedented levels of homelessness. And the solution for many Latinos who lose their home will be for multiple families to live together in small spaces, which is hardly a solution at all, certainly not a long-term one.

At the same time, Latinos who are able to secure employment will be working, often in multiple jobs, in high-risk settings. The high risks are for coronavirus as well as for unstable or lost jobs and wages.

Good Economic News Bypasses Latinos

Latinos are still experiencing inequitable access to what is said to be an easily accessible vaccine, high unemployment rates, housing and nutritional insecurities, high-risk work environments, and the lowest rates of health insurance. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that this week’s economic news will trigger euphoria within the Latino community.

As with all things COVID, the lower you are in the economic pecking order, the more likely you are not to see the benefits that are reflected in the latest rosy economic data. Rather, when we drill down to the hyper-local level and examine an array of data points, the headline becomes not COVID recovery, but continuing COVID devastation.

Lawmakers must begin to assess recovery not just in terms of general data trends, but also on the basis of a more nuanced and finely granulated set of data points.

Only when the pronouncements of recovery are made based on data that reflects the lives of those hardest hit by COVID will we really know if we are recovered or are even in the process of recovering.