Long-Term Unemployment Is Uniquely Hard on Asian-Americans

Stressed and worried young Asian woman working from home, handling paperworks and going through her financials.
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Pandemic shutdowns began a year ago, and unemployment rolls increased almost immediately. Despite efforts to reduce job loss through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, the Pew Research Center found that 41.5% of those who are unemployed during the pandemic have been unemployed for six months or more. This is higher than February 2020, when 19.3% of the unemployed were out of work for the long term, as well as higher than the long-term unemployment peak of 40.4% during the Great Recession.

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An unexpected finding of the study is that Asian-Americans had the highest long-term unemployment rate. Of those who are unemployed, 46% had been out of work for six months or more. Black workers had the next-highest long-term unemployment rate, at 38%. Hispanic workers had the lowest long-term unemployment rate, at 34%. White workers had a 35% long-term unemployment rate.

The high rate of long-term unemployed Asian-Americans may be due to their relatively high population in California and New York, both of which are hard-hit by the coronavirus. It may also be due to their above-average likelihood of holding at least a bachelor’s degree, as 41% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more were also among the long-term unemployed.

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The long-term unemployed make up 2.6% of the total workforce. Discouraged workers, those who have been unemployed so long that they have stopped looking for a job, are estimated to make up 0.4% of the potential workforce, for a long-term unemployment rate of 3%. Asian-American workers are somewhat less likely to fall into the discouraged worker category than other groups, although that may change if the recession persists.

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.
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