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Poor and Minority Workers Are Least Likely to Be Able to Work From Home

Social isolation during the pandemic comes at a high cost for those who have no paid leave and can’t telecommute.


By Donald Moore, Bloomberg

Millions of Americans have been sent home from work during the coronavirus pandemic, and a new report highlights the stark divide between those who can continue their work from home and those who cannot—largely low-income and minority workers.

Analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that 28.8% of American workers are able to work from home. This figure varies based on income: While 62% of the top quartile of wage earners fall into this category, only 9.2% of the bottom quartile do.

Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the think tank and co-author of the report, says this creates a dichotomy between primarily higher-wage, white-collar professionals and lower-wage service workers.

“There’s a portfolio of benefits an elite few have: paid sick days, good health insurance, decent pay and an ability to work from home. If you have those, you will be able to weather this crisis just fine. But most people don’t,” Shierholz said in a phone interview. “We know there’s going to be disproportionate pain.”

The flexibility to keep working while staying away from workplaces varies among ethnic groups as well: About 30% of white workers report being able to work at home, compared with 20% and 16% for black and Hispanic workers, respectively.

Anthony Advincula, public affairs officer at workers’ advocacy group ROC United, says low-wage workers and people of color are most likely to face a cruel choice: “Staying home and not collecting a paycheck, or going to work even when they’re sick or at risk of being infected.”

See more at: Bloomberg

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Career Magazine: Poor and Minority Workers Are Least Likely to Be Able to Work From Home
Poor and Minority Workers Are Least Likely to Be Able to Work From Home
Social isolation during the pandemic comes at a high cost for those who have no paid leave and can’t telecommute.
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