Working Paper: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Effects of COVID-19 on Employment Disruption and Financial Precarity


Existing studies find that COVID-19 disproportionately affected the employment and financial security of minoritized workers. However, few studies have examined the employment and financial impact of COVID-19 among different groups of older workers. Furthermore, there is limited information on how pre- and post-COVID-19 financial precarity are associated. To address these gaps, we analyzed data from the 2016 and 2018 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), as well as the 2021 HRS Perspectives on the Pandemic mail-in survey, to evaluate racial differences in the consequences of COVID-19-related job disruption and financial precarity among workers 51 and older. Results indicate that non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic workers had higher rates of COVID-19-related job disruptions than their white counterparts. Further, non-Hispanic Black older workers were more likely to have stopped work due to illness than their white counterparts. Results also show that non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic older workers experienced more post-COVID-19 financial consequences than their white counterparts. Finally, analysis of interaction terms indicated that the association between pre-COVID-19 financial precarity status and post-COVID-19 financial precarity outcomes was dependent on race. Specifically, although pre-COVID-19 financial precarity was associated with significantly higher rates of post-COVID-19 precarity for all racial groups, white older workers without pre-COVID-19 precarity were uniquely protected from post-COVID-19 precarity, whereas Black and Hispanic older workers were likely to experience relatively high rates of post-COVID-19 precarity even in the absence of pre-COVID-19 precarity.


Dawn Carr
Rebekah Carpenter
Qiuchang (Katy) Cao
Qize Chen
Amanda Sonnega

More information

Official site