Job losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have had a disproportionate effect on black workers and low-income families, according to a new report from real estate brokerage firm Redfin.
Redfin said the unemployment rate for black families is around three points higher than it is for white families, and has doubled to six points during the pandemic. Meanwhile, home buyers with secure, highly-paid jobs are moving quickly to take advantage of lower mortgage rates and get into homeownership. As a result, the nation’s wealth gap is expected to grow further, the report concluded.
“With the rapid increase in housing prices over the past several years, it’s been increasingly difficult for many Americans to afford the American dream,” says Adam Wiener, Redfin’s chief growth officer. “With job losses disproportionately affecting people with lower incomes, unemployment hasn’t had much effect on home buying demand yet.”
When the U.S. began its shutdown to combat the coronavirus, technology workers and those with white-collar office jobs were largely able to continue their work by remote. The study found that the majority of those workers also tend to be white. Meanwhile, those who have struggled the most during the pandemic tend to be those in low-income jobs within industries such as services and hospitality. In those jobs, the majority of workers tend to come from minority groups.
“They had largely already been priced out of the housing market even before the economy stalled,” the Redfin report notes. “The pain of the coronavirus recession is likely to be over relatively quickly for the economically privileged, even in areas where unemployment has soared.”
The report concludes that the persisting racial divide is likely to grow.
“This disparity highlights the need for serious action to address systemic racial inequality in housing and the economy as a whole,” the report says. “Unless the government takes aggressive, proactive steps to counteract the unequal impact this recession is already having on Black families, it is likely that the homeownership and wealth gaps will increase even more, continuing the pattern that followed the Great Recession.”