The headlines last week indicated that unemployment made a small dip nationally of 1.4 percent, leaving 13.3 percent unemployed. However, the number of unemployment among people between 16 to 19 years old remains a very high 29.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unfortunately, the Bureau’s numbers only take into account people who work full time. For young workers who depend on part-time jobs, the unemployment rate is closer to 35-40 percent. Among racial and ethnic subgroups, BLS found Latine teenagers had the highest unemployment rate at 37.4 percent, compared to 34.9 percent for Black teenagers and 28.3 percent for white teenagers.
Summer jobs are scarcely to be found. For low-income youth, this means losing a much-needed contribution to place food at the table. In states like California, Latine youth have been hardest hit, both by unemployment and, for those who have scrambled to keep their jobs, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19.
About 45 percent of Californians ages18-34 are Latine, but the state’s public health department says they have over 63 percent of COVID-19 cases in that age group. The disproportion is a result of the fact that many low-income Latines do not have the luxury of working remotely. These youth often hold informal jobs and are at greater risk of exposure while others wait out the pandemic safely at home.
During a screening project organized by a nonprofit, Unidos En Salud (United in Health), 90 percent out of 3,000 people screened in the Mission District in San Francisco tested positive.
“Low-wage earners sometimes don’t have access to healthcare—whether it’s because they don’t have [positions with full benefits] or for other documentation reasons,” said Dr. Jaime Ruiz, Chief Medical Officer at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, in an interview for CBS News.
Before the pandemic, the future for Latine low-income youth was already uncertain. Today, they face an even more vulnerable, dismal position: Either you can’t find a job, or you risk your life in the menial job you did manage to find.—Sofia Jarrin-Thomas